Conversations with former students: Natalie Klenner

June 20, 2018 1:07 pm

We spoke with former student, Natalie Klenner, about her time at Kilvington, her journey to where she is today, and some advice for current Kilvington students.

Hi Natalie, thanks so much for sitting down with us for a chat. First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello! I’m 25 and I’m passionate about empowering young people to reach their full potential through providing emotional intelligence, social change and leadership experiences. I’m the CEO of Game Changers, an organisation that works with young people across Victoria to develop healthy communities and leaders in sport.

What year did you finish at Kilvington?


What have you been up to since leaving Kilvington?

A lot! Since leaving I’ve lived in both Canada and France, become proficient in French (and then lost a lot of it!), finished my Bachelor of Arts (Global) at Monash University, became a founding member of two social enterprises, completed three internships, did a national entrepreneurship incubator, travelled and enjoyed a lot of live music. My activities have led me to think deeply about what I want to create for my life and I’m continuously learning and looking for what’s next.

What is your favourite memory of Kilvington?

My favourite memory is of the amount of co-curricular activities I was able to participate in! I was in the debating team, tennis team and of course House Arts – none of which I was particularly skilled at but all with the mindset of giving it a go. The small and community-minded environment at Kilvington meant that I felt able to really try out new skills and opportunities in a safe space.

Did you end up where you expected you would when you finished school?

Absolutely not! I am now a facilitator (something I didn’t even know existed in Year 12!) and a CEO (in high school I didn’t touch any business subjects). When I finished high school I had very little idea what I would be doing, just that I knew I would be passionate about
it. My path to where I am now has taken many personal and professional twists and turns that I could never have predicted.

How did your time at Kilvington prepare you for what you’re doing now?

It provided me with an incredible environment to try new things and learn from failure. Being a small and inclusive community, I was always supported to learn and participate in activities beyond the classroom. I felt that because the environment was so small, there were continuously options to step outside of your comfort zone and into further growth for those that were looking for it. Kilvington gave me a grounded sense of character and belief in myself that I can pursue the opportunities I want to.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face to get where you are now?

The biggest challenge for me has been following a career path that doesn’t have a linear trajectory. In Year 12 I believed that life after uni was very straight forward! I studied International Studies at Monash University, however upon graduation I found I was not qualified to get a job that I wanted. However, I had developed a lot of business skills through my volunteer work in social enterprise. So I spent my first year out of uni volunteering a lot, doing internships, and completing the Foundation for Australians Young Social Pioneers program all the while working at my local supermarket. My first professional job managing a youth foundation did not come until my second year out of uni. Getting to where I am now has meant backing myself and putting myself out there for opportunities I’m been passionate about, even  my qualifications. It’s also meant getting comfortable stepping outside my comfort zone and challengingmyself to consistently embrace personal development.

What advice would you give to others who might be faced with similar obstacles?

If you’re looking at a career path that is non-conventional, or pursuing an idea that is completely your own – go for it! Be prepared to put yourself on the line for it and hold out at times when it seems everyone around you has ‘got it together’. No one does really! Your patience in following your passion and dream will pay off, and if it doesn’t, you’ll work that out too and learn many lessons on the way.

Thanks Natalie!


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