How the Stars Foundation is supporting 17-year-old Sahara to excel at school and become a boxing champion

by Women’s Agenda
Tuesday 23 May 2023

Sahara Dempsey has her sights set on being the best boxer in the world. She is the current Under 19s Australian champion in her category, and has big ambitions to make it to the top of the sport.

It’s taking a lot of hard work and commitment, but with the support of the Stars Foundation, Sahara is rising to the peak of the boxing world, all while getting the most out of her high school education.

17-year-old Sahara is currently in Year 12 and is one of the many young First Nations women supported by the Stars Foundation to get the most out of her education.

Since its launch in 2015, the Stars Foundation has supported and mentored many thousands of young women since launching in 2015, and in 2023 is currently supporting over 2600 in 47 schools and 700 alumni.

Saraha recently sat down for a chat with fellow Stars Foundation alumni, Willow Wells, who is the host of ‘Midday Mix’ on 4K1G, an Indigenous-run radio station that broadcasts to Northern Queensland.

Willow was supported by the Stars Foundation while at school, graduating Year 12 in 2020. She now hosts the radio show in Townsville five days per week.

On air, Sahara told Willow how she has been supported by Stars, and that without it, she probably wouldn’t have been motivated to stay on and finish school.

“Stars was my safe place, it made me feel secure and comfortable,” Sahara told Willow on 4K1G.

“I was thinking of dropping out [of school] to pursue my dream of boxing to do full-time training. It was one of the Stars ladies who sat me down and had a talk with me.”

Here, Sahara is referring to one of her Stars mentors, whose role is to help guide the girls through their education, offering support and resources where necessary.

“The only reason I decided to finish Grade 12 was because of Stars,” she explains. “Honestly, they made school really fun, because they focus on your schooling but they also focus on you and your outside life – helping you, guiding you.”

Sahara says the specific support she’s received to do her best with her school work has been instrumental in keeping her motivated at school.

“They were always there to remind me when an assignment or an exam is coming up,” she said. “They always have study classes on Thursday to help you with your schooling. If you sit down and have a talk or yarn with them, they’ll help you with it.”

The Stars Foundation has also played a significant role in helping Sahara to pursue her dream of boxing, a highly competitive sport that she wants to pursue full-time after she graduates Year 12.

So what’s the best thing about having the support of the Stars Foundation?
Sahara says it’s been game-changing to have mentors from the Stars Foundation who are interested in not just her schooling and boxing, but all different aspects of her life.

“Not only is it about bringing the community together, and women’s empowerment, but I got to meet these mentors that not only care about your education but they really care about you as an individual and your lifestyle on the outside,” she says.

“You get to trust them and become friends with them. They were always there next to you whenever you failed, they picked you back up. When you needed a shoulder to cry on, they were there.”

Founder and CEO of the Stars Foundation, Andrea Goddard, said seeing young women like Sahara and Willow thrive, both in and out of school, is very meaningful for the Stars team.

“It means so much to our team to see Stars students and Alumni thriving and becoming role models for the next generation of girls,” Goddard said.

“This is especially so when we deeply understand the individual challenges overcome and the journey taken to get there. It’s incredibly rewarding for our Stars Mentors to know they have helped make a difference in the lives of young women.

“It motivates us to continue our mission to improve health, education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women.”