Brisbane Broncos player Ali Brigginshaw with Roma State College students Darcey Patterson and Rebecca Patch, and former Broncos player Justin Hodges.
Brisbane Broncos player Ali Brigginshaw with Roma State College students Darcey Patterson and Rebecca Patch, and former Broncos player Justin Hodges.

Students set for success, inspired by Broncos stars

NRL HEROES are inspiring Roma’s next generation to achieve more in their schooling, and in life, through a life-changing mentorship program.

Ali Brigginshaw and Justin Hodges paid a visit to Roma State College on Wednesday to launch Beyond the Broncos for the 2020 school year – a program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students aimed at improving attendance and year 12 attainment rates.

Ms Brigginshaw and Mr Hodges spoke with students about the importance of education and school attendance, setting goals, and choosing a career pathway.

For older students like Darcey Paterson, who has already gotten on board, Beyond the Broncos has made a marked difference in her schooling and personal life, and her outlook on the future.

“Before I started, I was very enclosed and wasn’t sharing who I am with the world, but since I’ve met my mentors Tanisha, Suzi and Leona through the program, I have come a long way with opening up to people,” Miss Patterson said.

“I’ve become more motivated in studies, and am on the track to become an indigenous teacher aide or teacher – I have actually started the course this year.

“I will go on to finish two years of Certificate III in Education Support, and then work my way to becoming a teacher, or an indigenous education worker.”

The guidance of Beyond the Broncos has helped Ms Patterson find a reason to stay at school all the way through to graduation.

“Before I started on this journey, I thought I would finish at the end of year 10, maybe year 11 – I didn’t think I could graduate,” she said.

“But since the course and the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy, I’ve become more determined and said to myself ‘I want to complete year 12’.”

Through Beyond the Broncos, year 12 student Rebecca Patch has a new-found confidence, and coming in to her second year of the program, has mapped out her own journey post high school, where she hopes to shape young minds.

“My first goal in the program was to finish year 12, and I’m on my way there now,” Miss Patch said.

“I really want to get somewhere in life, and am thinking about going into childcare in the future.

“Because of the program, I’m no longer ashamed of myself, and can proudly share my big achievements with other people.

“I found I’m also more confident around other people too; I used to never talk to anyone, aside from very close friends, and now I talk to a lot more people.”

Roma’s own Ali Brigginshaw is an ambassador for Beyond the Broncos, and said she is motivated by her own experiences at school.

Ms Brigginshaw admitted she was not a perfect student while studying at Roma, and wants to see the kids she influences finish with better results.

“I wasn’t the greatest kid at school, so trying to go in and change those behaviours is something I’m really passionate about,” she said.

“I see the kids that lose interest in school, or choose sport over learning, and I am trying to reiterate that it is learning first, and sport comes after; trying to help them understand being in the classroom is just as important as being out on the field.”

While the football stars are at the face of the program, Beyond the Broncos is not actually a football, or even a sporting, initiative.

The focus is solely academic and behavioural, and it works to close the gap and help students achieve success, as Justin Hodges pointed out.

“A lot of our kids are really talented, but don’t necessarily believe in themselves – they don’t always have that extra person who is going to believe in them, so that is what we are so passionate about: seeing these young kids being successful,” he said.

“We’re not a footy program, we are all about educations, and want to give these kids the right tools, and put them in the right environment for them to shine.”


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