In Focus Careers

4 Steps to Help Your Kids Achieve Their Dream

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You know hip, cool and trendy when you see it.

design 1

Nhulunbuy isn’t it.


There is no clear path from Nhulunbuy……. hip, cool and trendy!!

No path

Dana was in Year 10 at Nhulunbuy High School and she wanted to become a hip, cool, trendy graphic designer.

But Dana lived in Arnhemland. Her Dad worked at the bauxite refinery. Her Mum was from the Philippines. Her little sister was in primary school. They would do anything for her, but they had no idea how to help her to become a graphic designer.

Dana was facing barriers that stop thousands of students reaching their potential. Talent gets left on the table everyday.

But sometimes it can seem like magic happens.

Dana HAS become a graphic designer. In 2015 she was named one of the Five Illustrative Designers Killing it on Instagram. You can see her hip, cool and trendy work on Instagram HERE

Dana’s 4 Steps to Her Dream

Dana’s greatest asset was herself. Her talent and determination drove all of us to believe in her dream and do what we could to support her.

Step 1 – Discover How to Do More

Subject choices were limited at Nhulunbuy High School. In Year 11 Dana did more. She enrolled in Information Processing and Publishing externally via the Open Access College in Adelaide.

Step 2 – Find the YES ….AND Technique

Dana’s greatest source of support was her talented and wonderfully enthusiastic art teacher who said,  “YES Dana. You CAN be a designer.” AND proceeded to teach her how.

Step 3 – Ask for Help

It is amazing how helpful people will be if you only ask.

We asked an architect 2000 km away in Cairns if he would give Dana work experience. “I don’t do interior design but I am happy to help if you think it might be useful.”

Step 4 – Giga Dreams – Nano Steps 

Dana’s dream was big. Her steps were small. She read magazines, worked at her art, kept looking for opportunities and studied externally. She talked to her family about design courses and talked to anyone who would listen about her dream.

Magic Happens Slowly


Dana’s journey wasn’t a fairy tale. She overcame many barriers.

When she left school she went to work in the bauxite refinery where she saved money to pursue her dream.

Dana had graduated from a small remote high school. She found a university that wouldn’t overwhelm her.

She was the first in her family to go to university and needed that university to provided appropriate support.

She relocated to university leaving her her family behind in Nhulunbuy.

Dana graduating

Dana did it. She graduated with a Bachelor of Design from Queensland College of Art.

Say YES 

You can help talented heroes like Dana to achieve their dreams.

Nano Steps:

  • Becoming an expert in career news and opportunities via the In Focus Careers Newsletter.
  • Sharing teaching resources with other careers teachers. Alice Sounness from John Curtin College has already shared some of hers which are posted here.
  • Ask me for help if you have a student who is facing barriers. I will see what support I can rally through the In Focus Careers network.


bust-small-72dpiIf you are tired of not knowing what to do next it may be time to think about consulting a professional career advisor to set you in the right direction. Email me at  or you can phone me on M:0434056412


Author: Bev Johnson

Hi I'm Bev. I write, speak and lobby about career opportunities for school students. I really care about kids leaving school. After 12 years of care and guidance the system pops them out the school gate to fend for themselves. My work aims to smooth the path from that gate so that ALL students know which way to go.

One thought on “4 Steps to Help Your Kids Achieve Their Dream

  1. love this article – very inspiring


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