Principal’s award for inspiring leadership

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13 November 2020

Whitefriars College student Ben Bugeja with Tom, Noah, Harry, Ben, Liam and Mclaren Picture: Sarah MatrayBen Bugeja, Year 12 student and Mantua house captain at Whitefriars College, Donvale, has received the principal’s award for his inspiring leadership.

Principal Mark Murphy praised Ben for his leadership which will be remembered for years to come. ‘This is an occasional award, which may be presented to a Year 12 student who has achieved commendably in Year 12 in spite of some particular and special hardships, which he has had to contend with throughout the year.’

Ben has a condition called Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe type of muscular dystrophy that primarily affects boys. This year, he has led his house and inspired the entire college. This week, though, he and his classmates are in the midst of VCE exams.

‘I am feeling a little nervous about the VCE exams, though I feel well-prepared, and have put in the time and effort to achieve the best I can’, said Ben. ‘This year has been challenging and unpredictable in so many ways.’

‘While we have missed out on some events that are traditionally part of Year 12, there have also been positives like building resilience to face anything in life, and learning not to take relationships with family and friends for granted.’

Mr Murphy honoured Ben with the award and knows that Ben’s leadership will be a reference point for the school for many years to come.

‘There are not many people who can say they will leave an impression on a school which will stand long after they have left. Only people who have truly inspired others, who have achieved great things, who have the respect and admiration of their peers, who have overcome challenges beyond anything we can fully appreciate, can possibly achieve this lofty status.’

‘There is definitely such a person among the class of 2020. That person is Ben Bugeja. Ben is not a young man who is defined by his physical limitations, he transcends them.’

‘Ben has participated more fully in every aspect of school life than most. He is a constant presence in our midst, always doing all he can to support his community. St Therese of Lisieux said that we should do little things, but do them with great love. There is no doubt that Ben loves his school and he loves his mates.’

‘Ben has spent the past six years doing a million little things motivated by a deep love for this college. Whether it be through his role as a great leader of Mantua House, or assisting Year 7s to feel safe and welcome, or being present at out of hours events, or simply being there for a friend in need, Ben has done all these things with love.’

‘His house leader Murray Prior describes him as being someone who stubbornly perseveres and who is his own harshest critic, always striving to be better than he was before.’

‘Ben has not only taken the road less travelled, he has carved out a new one. One which I know others will be inspired to follow.’

‘Congratulations Ben on six years of effort and achievement here at Whitefriars College. This school is all the better for having you here.’

Ben reminds us that there is life to enjoy after exams. ‘To wind down after exams, I plan to spend time with my mates and family now that the restrictions are starting to ease, and look back on our amazing achievement of completing Year 12 under the trying circumstances of 2020. I will go down to the beach with my family for the summer.’

His advice to his peers: ‘Give the exams your best shot. The effort and work you have put into your studies throughout the year will hold you in great stead to achieve your best.’