HSC: Isabelle aces Society and Culture

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Flair for study: Isabelle Hargraves with her HSC First in Course award. Photo: Kitty Beale


A severe allergy didn’t stand in the way of success for Isabelle Hargraves during her HSC.

The Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Kensington Year 12 graduate placed First in Course in Society and Culture from a pool of 4,566 candidates.

She was presented with her award by NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli at a ceremony at Australian Technology Park Sydney on December 15. This year, 116 students of the more than 70,000 who sat the HSC received first in course awards.

Isabelle, 18, went into anaphylactic shock twice this year and was rushed to hospital, which she had visited each month as part of a desensitisation program to help cure her allergy to dust mites. Despite missing classes throughout the year, she said repeating Year 12 was never an option.

“There were lot of challenges but you can’t let them get to you too much,” Isabelle said.

“I’m a very determined person so I wanted to study hard. I think when you only have one chance to do your best, you have to do it.

“I’m excited and it’s a little bit overwhelming. I only found about the award yesterday. It’s good to see that hard work pays off.”

Isabelle said the Society and Culture course included topics on China, social theories, surfing, conformity and non-conformity, popular culture and a personal interest project across 12 months.

“I looked at if fashion was an expression of the self,” she said. “My hypothesis was ‘You are what you wear, or are you?’ The research involved questionnaires, and interviews and case studies, using all the skills we had learnt throughout the course.

“There was lot of social inquiry. You really had to develop your social skills, which was really good for us getting out into the world now.”

It’s good to see that hard work pays off.

– Isabelle Hargraves

The Hargraves family moved from Moruya, a town of just 8,000 people on the NSW far south coast, for Isabelle to complete Year 11 and 12 in Sydney. She attended Carroll College Broulee from Years 7 to 10.

Her father David said he was emotional as he and his wife Belinda watched their daughter receive her award.

“It’s very special occasion,” he said. “People don’t all get to do this in their lives. It’s very surreal.

“She had a few speed humps. It has been a supreme effort what she has achieved.

“You’ve got to have a work/life, or school/life, balance. I’d say go down to the beach and have a swim, clear your thoughts.”

Belinda said her daughter had always had a strong work ethic and was disciplined when it came to study. “She’s a very strong character, but that’s just naturally her.”

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Isabelle with proud parents David and Belinda. Photo: Kitty Beale

Isabelle plans to study Business or Commerce at university next year. She said the best HSC advice she received was to keep positive.

“A lot of girls around me struggled with HSC stress and other things going on in their lives but you just have to keep positive, not let it get to you, and keep your head clear,” she said.

Isabelle also thanked her Society and Culture teacher Michelle Bevan for her support.

“Every school holidays we had she would come in for a whole week, and each day you could come and see her and she’d help you through it all. She wanted us to succeed and not only in that course.

“Her motto was for us to be women of the future.”




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