When she was 10 years old, Year 12 St Kilda Road student Eloisa found out she shared her name with the first female doctor in South America, Dr Eloisa Diaz.

‘I share with her not only a surface-level characteristic, but a heritage and a passion, and because a woman with my heritage and my name achieved something big, I saw that I could too,’ said Eloisa in opening this year’s Hollaway Oration, delivered to the Senior School in a special assembly at the end of Term 3.

EloisaEloisa Diaz

Two Eloisas. A hugely influential figure in her time, Chilean Dr Eloisa Diaz forged significant health initiatives in her long medical career and went on to become a women’s rights champion.

Eloisa was the winner of last year’s Hollaway Memorial Prize for Debating, established to honour the memory of long-time staff member Stuart Hollaway who tragically lost his life in a climbing accident in 2015. The prize is awarded annually to a Year 11 student who has made a significant contribution to the debating program and public speaking.

The empowering effect of role models, especially for women, was at the centre of Eloisa’s speech. She cited the huge success of the Matildas in the recent World Cup as an example.

‘When you see yourself in the world around you, succeeding, and you believe that you have the potential and the right to achieve, you can excel,’ she said. ‘Genuine representation, a world where all people are free to dream because they have seen themselves succeed, is not a fantasy. It is based in fact, and it is within our grasp.’

Ten-year-old Eloisa wanted to follow in Dr Eloisa’s pathway into medicine. That aspiration has passed, but the impact on her life remains.

‘This is the power of role models, of seeing yourself reflected in the world around you,’ she said. ‘It’s not about being inspired to achieve the same things, but about knowing that you can.’

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