It is beyond doubt that living with a disability is challenging, but St Ursula’s College student Hannah Geurtsen still manages to shine bright each day.

The Year 12 student recently received the 2018 Mayoral Achievement Medal; an award given to one student from every school in the Toowoomba region recognising young people overcoming daily struggles and adversity with strength and courage. “It was also amazing to attend the ceremony and see how challenging the lives of other people can be and how they manage to overcome those challenges while still helping others,” Hannah said.

Hannah, who lives with autism, inspires her fellow students and staff at St Ursula’s with her passion and willingness to make the most of every opportunity. She was responsible for organising the Blue Day for Autism awareness day, raising funds for sensory equipment at a special needs school, and facilitating World Mental Health Day at the school in 2018. “Promoting Mental Health Day was very important to me,” Hannah said. “There has been a big increase in mental illness and suicide rates in recent years, and raising awareness around that can help people know what to do if they have concerns about a friend or themselves.”

Hannah is also an active member of the Sparks service group and was nominated for the Empowering Young Women’s Award at The Downs Women in Business Awards. St Ursula’s College Principal Tanya Appleby said the school was very proud of Hannah and her achievements. “Hannah represents perfectly the ethos of St Ursula’s to serve with great humility, positivity and humour,” Mrs Appleby said. “She is such a humble and kind-hearted young woman.”