CCAF Ambassador Sarah De Bono knows what it means to sign the Beacon Foundation Charter and become a success story. The former Beacon student gives us some advice on how to live your dreams, whatever your circumstances.

Sometimes it’s hard staying on track when you’re 15. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what it is that you want to do after school. You’ll probably feel like you’re under pressure from your parents, teachers, friends and the world, and maybe you don’t have the role models you need to show you the way.

The best advice I can pass on is this: think about what really makes you happy. Because it’s you, and only you, who wakes up every day to go to work or school. Nobody else can do it for you.  Figure out what drives you, what brings that passion, and then work out how to get there.

I didn’t always have the best time growing up. Music was my escape, my release and my passion. I decided that it was all I wanted to do. So I worked out how to get there and I set goals. I found some role models, watched what they did, and worked hard. There were definitely times where I thought it was all too hard, but I never stopped loving music, and so I stuck to my plan. Now I get to sing for a living!

Recently I had the awesome experience of using my voice not just to sing but to inspire 250 students to sign a pledge for their own futures. Standing on the stage of the Joan Sutherland Theatre in  Western Sydney for the Coca Cola Australia Foundation and Beacon Foundation’s NSW Charter Signing was fantastic.  It was incredibly special to see Year 10 students put pen to paper and pledged to their future – stay in school or find work.

It might seem like just a school exercise but it’s so much more than that. I remember my own Beacon charter signing event just a few years ago – it was such a defining moment for me. I made a deal with myself that it was going to mean something. It was a promise, and I didn’t break it.

The Beacon Foundation is a fantastic organisation that really could not dso without the support of the Coca-Cola Foundation. They work with thousands of kids around Australia offering mentoring support, career advice, job placements and professional development workshops for those who struggle or come from challenging backgrounds.

Talking to those teenagers I hoped they could learn from my story. You can make yourself who you are, despite where you came from, where you live, what you know. It’s never too late to turn it all around and when you find that passion for what it is you want to do, you will never feel like it’s “work”. You’ll feel like it’s exactly where you were meant to be.