Marylyn Sendah

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With numerous awards and achievements to her name, Marylyn Sendah is a young lady who is definitely going places! We spoke with her recently about her many accomplishments, her background in Zimbabwe, and her life her now in Taree.

Taree is a long way from Zimbabwe. Can you give us some background into your life in Zimbabwe, and how you and your family ended up living and working in the Manning Valley? 

Living in Zimbabwe seems like a lifetime ago. I have vivid memories of travelling from Zimbabwe to South Africa. I loved being at school and surrounded by my relatives, many of whom I haven’t seen since the move the Australia. 

My mother was the primary caretaker for me and my siblings, as my dad was away studying. He has two bachelors, four masters in various sciences and a doctorate in Forensic and Clinical Psychology, which eventually led to him being offered a job right here in the Manning Valley, and the opportunity to uproot the family to Australia and give us a better life.

You are such a high achiever for someone so young. Can you tell us about the awards that you have been nominated for/ received?  

Last year I won the Plain English Speaking Award for my district and was recognised by the NSW Government Department of Education as one of the top 20 public speakers in the state. I was also nominated for the Dame Maire Bashir Peace Award. I was elected as Rotary Youth Ambassador for our area for 2017/18 and was given the chance to compete in the Rotary Public Speaking Competition, where I won all rounds and was awarded with a trip to New Zealand. 

I was also nominated to be a member of the YMCA Youth Parliament. We attended camps in the school holidays that taught me how to write legislation, which we then debated in Parliament. I was one of the top three applicants for the position of Youth Governor for NSW, and was elected as the Youth Minister for the Hunter and Newcastle regions. 

Through Awards Australia I have recently been nominated for some Young Achiever awards, such as the First National Real Estate Leadership Award, the NSW Deputy Premier’s Regional Achiever Award, the Scouts NSW/ACT Youth Development Award and the Wester University Academic Achievement Award. I have also been nominated for the TransGrid leadership award, which is a regional achievement award.

You are currently in Year 12 at Chatham High School – what subjects are you studying, and do you have a career path in mind for when you’ve completed your HSC?

I am currently studying Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics Advanced, Mathematics Extension 1, Mathematics Extension 2, English Advanced, English Extension 1, English Extension 2. 

I have always wanted to do something in the field of medicine and neurosurgery, but with my involvement in public speaking competitions, my experience as a Rotary Youth Ambassador and my recent experience in Youth Parliament, I am tempted by the idea of a career in Law and Politics.

What do you think have been the key motivators or drivers behind your success so far?

Moving to Australia from Zimbabwe has opened me up to a world of opportunities. I think just the idea of being given a second chance at life is enough of a motivator for me to do my best in everything I can. Another key motivator is passion; with all my projects, I am passionate in what I do and aspire to create positive change, and that means I’m never short of motivation.

Do you have any role models who inspire you?

I do have some very public and famous role models, such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks, but my biggest inspiration is a lot closer to home … my mother. When she was young, her father passed away and she couldn’t afford school, which meant she had to drop out in Year 10. 

When we moved to Australia, it was a big change and a big challenge for her, but I watched her go to TAFE to finish her Year 11 and 12 equivalent. She then did a few more courses in nursing, before eventually going to university and getting her Bachelor in Nursing. 

She was a mother of five, and I remember her carrying me and my brother to the local TAFE, taking us to her classes and carrying us back home every day. When she was at university, she was studying full-time and working two jobs at one point. 

Growing up to see her gaining an education and empowering herself was amazing, and she raised me to believe strongly that anyone can do anything and that it’s never too late. That is why she is my biggest role model. She inspires me to be my best self.

What do you and your family do for leisure/recreation?

With parents who work full-time and siblings who either study or work, family life is always really busy. However, we do always find time to support each other and go to each other’s events. My father loves watching movies with me and my siblings, while my mother enjoys taking us for picnics and fun days at the park. 

As a family, we also love to explore and immerse ourselves in Australian culture. This Australia Day we went on our first camping trip, and it was so much fun. 

Thanks Marylyn. We wish you all the best in your HSC, and all your future endeavours!

Interview: Ingrid Bayer.

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