School Advisor Articles

A Canvas of Opportunities: Danielle Goh's Unforgettable Journey at HELP International School

Published by SchoolAdvisor | Dec 19, 2023

“My parents took a gamble enrolling me at HELP, and I’m pretty happy they did,” Danielle Goh says. “The teachers and team at HELP really made both my and my friend’s secondary school life so memorable. During those years, I grew into my skin, and I’m happy that HELP supported me in doing so.”

Danielle is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies at Swinburne.

Studying at HELP International School

In the bustling landscape of educational institutions, HELP International School stands out as a nurturing ground where students excel academically and find their unique paths to personal growth. Danielle, an alumna of HELP, reflects on her educational journey and the school’s pivotal role in shaping her into the confident and capable individual she is today.

Danielle's journey through HELP started with fond memories from secondary school, where she was surrounded by a diverse group of teachers from around the world. Each educator became a guiding star, nurturing her academic prowess and caring for her as an individual. This support became especially poignant during the tumultuous A-Levels amid the Covid lockdown. “My school performance took a toll, but instead of penalising or critiquing me, my teachers asked if I needed support, inquiring about my well-being. They all showed that they cared about me,” she says. 

The school’s commitment to learning excellence extended beyond academics, manifesting as top-notch facilities. She enjoyed the newly built A-Level lounge, a space that facilitated academic endeavours and offered a cosy retreat. Danielle fondly recalls, “I was fortunate enough to enjoy the newly built A-Level lounge with its own cafe! I drank so much coffee and hot chocolate there; it was amazing.”

In Year 10, she had the opportunity to meet and mingle with refugees residing in Malaysia — something she truly cherished.

Extracurricular Adventures: Crafting a Well-Rounded Future

HELP doesn’t just nurture academic excellence; it cultivates well-rounded individuals through various co-curricular activities

“I couldn’t even name all of them at one point,” Danielle reflects, emphasising the abundance of opportunities awaiting students beyond the traditional classroom setting. This major factor initially attracted her and her parents to the school – an environment that recognised the importance of holistic development.

“In secondary, I partook in fun little craft clubs like glass painting and knitting, but I also tried my hand at cheerleading and public speaking,” she says.

The spirit of the initiative was wider than what was offered by the school. One of Danielle's friends became a trailblazer by starting a Cinematography club with the support of Ms. Dessy, a teacher at the school. “He started his own Cinematography club because it was something he was passionate about, and he noticed that there were no clubs that appealed to him – so he formed his own,” she adds.

As Danielle transitioned to A-Levels, the spectrum of opportunities widened even further. She took on an internship as an English tutor, gaining practical experience that transcended the theoretical confines of the classroom. The pinnacle of her co-curricular involvement was Project Purpose, an initiative that encouraged students to form groups and create social enterprises aligned with their passions. Danielle’s group chose to address pressing issues, focusing on environmental concerns and the impact of COVID-19 on Malaysian mental health.

The teachers at HELP weren’t merely observers of student life; they actively enriched it by curating experiences beyond the curriculum. In a memorable instance during Year 10, Danielle’s teacher collaborated with a local non-profit to create a project that allowed students to meet and interact with refugees residing in Malaysia. Ms Dessy even got everyone from the cinematography club to write and produce short films with the refugees.

She shares, “If I had to choose the most memorable experience from school, it would be that. That teacher knew I planned to start a career in social work, so she actively sought experiences for me to help with my future career.”

Danielle’s engagement in co-curricular activities wasn’t just a checkbox on her school record; it became a cornerstone for her future endeavours. During her gap year, these experiences became the focal point of her job applications, showcasing the skills she had developed. Applying to university, Danielle believes these activities played a crucial role in securing a scholarship, highlighting her well-rounded nature.

“In university, I’ve used my experience to apply as a committee member for the School of Social Sciences in Swinburne and other leadership positions in clubs. Aside from that, my experience granted me a position as a Youth Mental Health Advocate in my suburb in Melbourne, where I get to work with many young Australians,” Danielle says. 

After graduating from HELP, Danielle took a gap year before starting university. During that time, she worked full-time in retail.

A-Levels at HELP: A Foundation for Success

At HELP, there are plenty of subjects which students can choose from for their A-Levels. Danielle pursued Psychology, English Literature and self-studied Sociology. Despite challenges during online learning, HELP’s supportive environment and dedicated teachers propelled her to achieve A* and A in Psychology and English Literature, respectively. Danielle scored a B in Sociology.

The learning environment, characterised by smaller classes and a dedicated A-Level lounge, allowed for a more personalised experience. Mistakes were not frowned upon but encouraged, fostering a culture of growth. “During my AS-Level, my grades were slipping because online learning was difficult for me to cope with, but my teachers really supported me and didn’t let my lower marks define the rest of my A-Level journey. They checked up on me and encouraged me to keep trying.”

Navigating the Path to Higher Education

Transitioning from secondary school to university is a significant leap, and HELP’s Higher Education (HE) team played a crucial role in Danielle’s success. Despite taking a gap year after A-Levels, Danielle acknowledges the guidance she received. 

She shares, “From early secondary in HELP, there was lots of talk during homeroom time about what universities or careers we were interested in. In A-Levels, we had lots of talks from HELP alumni and university fairs to better understand what we’re looking for in a school. The HE team also helped proofread our essays and prepare us for interviews.”

For students with aspirations of applying to Oxbridge or Ivy League universities, HELP provided dedicated support teams to maximise their chances.

Danielle’s passion for Global Studies found a home in her choice of a Bachelor of Arts at Swinburne University. She credits HELP for nurturing this interest, even supporting her decision to self-study Sociology. She shares, “In IGCSE, I took Global Perspectives as a subject and immediately loved it. The upper secondary and A-Levels team understood that it’s something I hold dear to me and encouraged me to study what I’m passionate about.”

Danielle believes her time at HELP International School has shaped her into who she is today.

Beyond Academics: Life Skills from HELP

Studying at HELP equipped Danielle with skills beyond the academic realm. The emphasis on essay writing during A-Levels was a valuable asset in university. “I didn’t realise how fortunate I was to be given these writing skills until I got to university, where I noticed some of my peers were learning to write higher education-level essays for the first time. I can’t imagine grappling with essay writing for the first time alongside university-level content.” 

She also credits HELP for her transformation from a shy kid to a confident young woman. She shares, “My parents always complained about how I was always the least adventurous among my siblings. But after joining HELP in Year 7, I began participating in the annual public speaking competition and did well. From there, my confidence grew. Now, I’ve used that character development in all aspects of my life  presentations at university aren’t too daunting, and I’m more confident meeting new people. It’s even granted me some pretty great job offers.”

The vibrant, supportive environment of HELP has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on Danielle’s educational journey, proving that the school is not just a place of learning but a canvas where futures are painted with brilliance.