3 January 2023

Warrawidgee student awarded elite Wagga Catholic Education scholarship

| Oliver Jacques
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young woman in park

Lexi Salvestro plans to return to Griffith to be a teacher. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A Marian Catholic College year 12 student has been awarded an elite teaching scholarship, putting her on the path to becoming a special needs educator in the Riverina.

Lexi Salvestro, who grew up on a farm in Warrrawidgee (population: 86), near Griffith, was one of just five Riverina students who gained the $20,000 Catholic Education, Diocese of Wagga Wagga (CEDWW) grant in 2022. She will use the funds to study for a Bachelor of Primary and Special Education at the Australian Catholic University in Canberra.

“I applied through my school, I went through an interview process in Wagga and they selected me from that,” Ms Salvestro said.

”I didn’t find it tough. I am very passionate about teaching, so answering the questions came naturally for me – it all came from the heart.

“I’m focusing on special education as I want to understand children with learning disabilities better, I want to give them the best opportunity possible to grow as individuals.”

READ ALSO Marian Catholic College dux edges brother with 97.5 ATAR, opts to spend another year at school

The scholarship is offered to five students who attend Catholic schools in Wagga, Griffith, Leeton and Albury. The Riverina area – which is struggling to overcome a chronic teacher shortage – will benefit directly from the program.

“As part of the conditions of the scholarship, after my four years of study, I’ll need to come back and teach within the Wagga diocese for at least three years. It could be here in Griffith, which would be ideal, but it could be in Holbrook or Coolamon or somewhere similar,” Ms Salvestro said.

Let’s find out more about Ms Salvestro, her time at school, goals, inspirations and career plans.

Name: Lexi Salvestro

Age: 18

Schools: St Patrick’s (primary), Marian (high)

Best memory of school: I honestly loved primary school. I remember all my teachers. Ms O’Connor was a big part of my school life.

Naughtiest thing you ever did at school: I was the biggest goody-two-shoes. I never did anything bad. Never wagged. Never got detention. Perhaps I should’ve been a bit more rebellious.

Teachers who inspired you: At St Pat’s, my year 1 teacher Mrs Simpson, who sadly passed away with cancer in 2013, was a great inspiration. At Marian, Ms Sparkes was amazing. She was my mentor.

READ ALSO Murrumbidgee Regional High School year 12 graduate to trial with NRL club Melbourne Storm

One thing you’d change about the education system: Provide more support for special needs students and students that are financially disadvantaged. Also, putting more of a focus on mental health is important.

Role model: My teachers from St Pat’s and Marian were such role models.

Famous person you most admire and why: My mum, Lea Salvestro. She is famous here, everyone in Griffith knows her. She has instilled into us how important it is to give back to the community, she does so much herself.

Mother and toddler

Lexi with her mentor and mother, Lea. Photo: Supplied.

Plans for next year: Study teaching in Canberra at the Australian Catholic University. I’d also like to find a job on campus.

What will you miss most about Griffith? The community. I’m really active in basketball and I coach here. I’m going to really miss all the girls I coach.

What won’t you miss about Griffith? The disadvantages we have being rural – like lack of access to services.

Best advice you ever got from your parents: My mum always reminded me not to lose myself in my studies and to be a well-rounded individual.

Social issue you most care about: The institutionalisation of youth. I’ve seen kids struggle through foster care. I’d love to be able to foster kids myself one day.

Special skills: I speak French and I’m very crafty – I love doing arts and crafts.

Dream career job: I would love to eventually teach overseas and experience different education systems around the world.

If you know of a year 12 graduate doing exciting things in 2023, drop us a line at [email protected].

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