Moving away from her life and family in the Northern Territory was a huge step for Kahlee Stanislaus. Now that she's back in Darwin, does she think it was all worth it? Read on to find out.
In 2011, Kahlee Stanislaus moved from Darwin to Melbourne – Melbourne Girls’ Grammar to be precise. Far more than a geographical shift, it was a move that would open Kahlee’s eyes to a completely different lifestyle and way of thinking, and pushed her well out of her familiar small-city sanctum.
‘School was a lot harder than I expected in Melbourne. I felt as though I’d skipped a couple of years ahead,’ she says. ‘But in Melbourne it feels like everyone has their big goal and is trying to reach the top mark, so everyone around you is motivating you, whereas in Darwin, you have to really motivate yourself.’
A challenge is exactly what Kahlee wanted when she decided to leave Darwin in Year 9 though. ‘I’m very determined so I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone,’ she says.
As well as pushing herself academically at school, Kahlee threw herself into many sports, including netball, basketball and athletics through Girls’ Sport Victoria (GSV).
This love of sport continued when she transitioned from school to the University of Melbourne to study criminology. Then, it was living on campus at Trinity College that allowed her to pursue her extracurricular passions – including basketball, football and netball – and to continue to challenge herself in an academic, yet supportive environment.
‘I was really nervous,’ says Kahlee of her move to Trinity College after finishing at Melbourne Girls’. ‘But once you’re there, it’s like everything is lifted off your shoulders. It’s relaxing and you feel welcomed – there’s no judgement about your background. The people living in your corridor become like family, and because everyone is there to study, you all have a common interest so it’s easy to get along with everyone.’
After two years at Trinity College and the University of Melbourne, Kahlee has moved back to Darwin to continue her studies at Charles Darwin University. She’s now shifted her attention to psychology and has her sights on a career as a school psychologist working in Darwin or a remote Indigenous community.
‘I really missed home and I’ve always wanted to settle down in Darwin near my family,’ she says of her decision. ‘My family is happy to have me back but they’re also happy that I left because I pushed myself and I did all these amazing things. I also became more independent because of my time in Melbourne – I was forced to do brave things that I wouldn’t usually do by myself in Darwin.’
Looking back on her educational journey, Kahlee can see just how fundamental her years spent at boarding school and Trinity College were, and encourages others to follow a similar path if it feels right.
‘For anyone leaving school, I’d say believe in yourself and do what you want to do – and don’t be scared to do things out of your comfort zone.’
Watch the video below to learn more about Kahlee's story.