Two stand out students from the Macleay Valley have been honoured at the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) Awards.
Melville High School's Amalie Iliffe and Kempsey High School's Leveda Jarrett both received NASCA Awards at Darling Harbour on Sunday, November 5.
NASCA designs programs to empower young Aborginal people to improve school attendance, strengthen cultural pride and identity, build life skills and develop career pathways.
The awards are held each year with awards based on one of the five core values of the Academy going to two NSW and NT students who are nominated by school staff, students or their community.
Laveda Jarrett first signed up to her school's NASCA program after her Year six high school transition day.
"I wanted to just experience high school when I first came so I wanted to learn about culture," she said.
Now in Year 10, the Dunghutti and Gumbaynggirr student has been recognised for excellence in Integrity at the NASCA awards.
"I was shocked when [Misty Kelly] said i got the award but I was proud of myself of how far I've come," she said.
"I still stick up for what is right because that's just the type of person that I am."
When Laveda first arrived at Kempsey High School she had trouble conducting the Welcome to Country at school assembly.
"I used to get...not shame about the fact I was doing it but that the whole school was there looking," she said.
"It was back when I was younger...but because I've done it a couple of times I'm used to it and can get up.
"The [school] deputies just walk up to me, give me the sheet of paper and then I just get up and do it."
She credits NASCA for building her confidence but also her foster parents, her Nan and Pop- Uncle Eddie Vale and Aunty Rosemary Vale.
"They're a big part of my life," she said.
"They've given me the opportunity to turn it around and become what I want to be in the future which is an occupational therapist."
It's a proud moment for Uncle Eddie and Aunty Rosemary.
"Right up to Year seven or eight, she was just a mucked up kid," Uncle Eddie said.
"But she started settling in at home and this is where she ends up now.
"She's come a long way."
The pair who been foster carers for over 30 years, travelled with Leveda for the award ceremony where the 15-year-old read a speech.
A video was also played at the ceremony, telling Leveda's journey at NASCA.
"It was so beautiful," Aunty Rosemary said.
"When she made her speech, everyone cried."
The video shown at the award ceremony still brings tears to the couple's eyes.
"Everyone that comes to the house, [Uncle Eddie] is showing them the video," Aunty Rosemary said.
"And he's started to cry then you've got me crying!"
Kempsey High School's NASCA team leader Misty Kelly said that Leveda had had a few different nominations for the awards.
"Obviously that shows that the teachers and staff have picked up on her improvement in school, her change and integrity," she said.
Ms Kelly has been with Leveda since she first joined the Academy in Year seven.
"As most Year Seven's come in, they find their feet and she's had a lot of background trauma as well," she said.
"But she's never really let any of that stop her from doing what's right.
"She will stand up to do what she thinks is right and try to be role model for the other girls in NASCA as well as for her younger brothers and sisters."
The sky is the limit for Leveda who wants to go to university to pursue her dreams of being an occupational therapist.
"I just realised one day I just wanted to have the ability to help people," she said.
"We're so proud," Aunty Rosemary said.
"She made us that happy
"I'll be so proud of her when she goes to uni and does what she set her goals to do."
Melville High School also had a student recognised at the NASCA Awards.
Year 10 student Amalie Iliffe was one of the two students awarded for Cultural Pride and Inclusion.
Amalie attended the awards with the school's NASA team leader Rosie Fatnowna.
"Amalie was chosen as one of the winners of the Cultural Pride and Inclusion Award because of her dedication to her involvement in the NASCA program, her pride in her culture and always representing this to her peers and her school," Ms Fatnowna said.
"We are so proud of Amalie for achieving this award."
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