Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Cobram student beats tough odds

Cobram Secondary College student Sonya McCarthy overcame family tragedy to post an ATAR score well-beyond her expectation.

ALEXANDRA BOLKAS January 2, 2014 4:00am

Cobram Secondary College principal Vicki Nolen and student Sonya McCarthy, who overcame significant challenges to post an ATAR of 86.5.

Sonya McCarthy could be excused for focusing on things other than study during her VCE years.

Last year the Cobram Secondary College student was confronted with family tragedy, including the death of her father to cancer and her mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer.

However, Sonya persisted with her studies.

‘‘I kept my motivation up and tried to keep focus on the school work instead of thinking about other personal things,’’ she said.

The morning VCE students received their ATAR results, Sonya set her alarm to 6.55am to make sure she was awake to receive her score in a text message.

The studio art, further maths, English, art and drama student was expecting an ATAR in the mid-70s.

‘‘Anything above that I would have been stoked,’’ Sonya said.

When the number 86.5 stared back at her, she began to cry.

‘‘I jumped online to double check,’’ she said.

Sonya said she immediately ran out of the room to tell her mother.

‘‘She was so excited and we were jumping around together,’’ she said.

Sonya said she hoped to study a Bachelor of Outreach and Community Education at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

She said her mother was a huge support to her during her VCE.

‘‘Mum was my rock, she gave me a lot of advice and kept me on track,’’ she said.

‘‘She believed in me and was the one who knew I could do it even when I was doubting myself.’’

Principal Vicki Nolen praised Sonya’s efforts during a difficult period.

‘‘Her VCE results are absolutely fantastic — to get two study scores over 40 is a wonderful achievement and she applied herself diligently,’’ Ms Nolen said.

‘‘While faced with significant challenges, she kept her focus on her studies and responded really positively.

‘‘Many kids wouldn’t have coped at all let alone get a study score like this.’’

Sonya said she would take a gap year and save some money before moving to Melbourne in 2015.

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