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British Royal Family

Duchess Meghan inspires young women in Dubbo: "She's a role model!"

The Markle Sparkle takes Dubbo.

By Juliet Rieden in Dubbo
For their final engagement in Dubbo Senior College the heavens opened with torrential rain sheeting down and Meghan and Harry were mobbed.
The entire school were there to greet the couple and they couldn't contain their excitement as royal hysteria set in.
The Duchess was here to experience a little bit of Dubbo girl power and she fitted right in.
All over New South Wales young women are turning out to meet the Duchess of Sussex, and today, here in the rural city of Dubbo, the newly minted-royal was winning more young hearts and minds at the Dubbo Senior Campus Girls Academy.
With her background in social activism and women's empowerment, programs like the Girls Academy are of special interest to Meghan, whose royal remit as a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador is just starting to unfold.
The Girls Academy is a powerful in-school mentoring program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls, delivered at 42 schools guiding more than 2,500 students. Each school has a Girls Academy room which is permanently resourced; a place to hang out, chat, seek support and really get involved.
The Academy's key objectives are to increase school attendance, advance academic and personal achievement, improve year 12 graduation rates and facilitate post-school education and employment opportunities.
"Eighty per cent of the Girls Academy staff are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and they are full-time mentors at the school - devoted to showing the girls there are many options open to them, and to helping them fulfil their potential," explained Aussie Olympian and NBL basketball player Ricky Grace who founded the Academy, the flagship of his 2004 Role Models and Leaders Australia organisation.
Ricky felt that while there was help for boys, girls especially were slipping through the net.
Meghan and Harry met with students from the The Girls Academy.
"I understand the importance of mentoring. I grew up in a rough neighbourhood in Dallas, and there was a time in my life where I could have gone either way, but I had a mentor who helped me realise my potential," said Ricky.
"Our program is making a big difference in the lives of these girls and their communities. A survey of our Year 12 graduates from last year found that 84% of them are now at university of TAFE, or have jobs."
"We are delighted that the Duke and Duchess have chosen to visit our Academy and acknowledge the amazing achievements of these students, " added Ricky.
For the Academy girls here today, the chance to meet Meghan was incredibly exciting. Year 12 student Tiarnie McBride, 17, kicked off proceedings with John Hill, 18, greeting the couple with a traditional Acknowledgement of Country.
"I feel very grateful and honoured to be given the opportunity to do the Acknowledgement of Country," she said.
Adding: "And also to be able to welcome the Duchess into our Girls Academy room."
WATCH: Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry greet schoolkids in Dubbo. Post continues after video...
"Girls Academy has shown me how to look at the positives in life and school and this has helped me immensely," says Tiarnie.
"The Academy room is a great safe place. It has a very welcoming feel, and always someone to listen to you if you need to talk."
"I think the Royal visit is an amazing opportunity for myself and the other students."
Meghan was escorted into the Girls Academy room by Program Manager Tracey Piggott, who said they had first heard that the royal was visiting seven weeks ago. The girls gasped when Meghan walked in.
"She's so pretty," Sharika Lamb, 16, said afterwards.
Meghan was shown around by Kieasha Ross, 17, and Shakira McGrath-Nolan, 18.
They talked through the photo wall of the girls' achievements, the nutrition corner and the attendance board. Meghan sensed that Shakira was incredibly nervous and rubbed her back reassuringly.
"That made me feel better," she said afterwards. "She said stay calm, keep on doing it, you're doing great."
Meghan was presented with a Girls Academy tee shirt with the mission statement: "Develop a girl, Change a community."
"You're speaking my language," said Meghan proudly to the eight awestruck girls.
A royally warm embrace.
The program is a powerful in-school mentoring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls, delivered at 42 schools guiding more than 2,500 students.
The Duchess then sat down with them for a private chat.
"We're very happy to be here...the flight was long, but we love Australia," she told them.
Kieasha Ross said the Duchess was really inspiring.
"She asked us all what we wanted to do when we left school. A couple of the girls want to be social workers and Meghan said 'my mum does that and it's a very rewarding job.'"
"For us as Aboriginal girls, her being of a different race and being a royal shows us anyone can be accepted," said Kieasha. "She's a role model."
"She was so easy to talk to and didn't make us feel awkward at all said Sharika Lamb, 16.
"She's a role model," Kieasha told us.
When she left the Girls Academy Meghan joined her husband to meet the rest of the school.
The royal couple were supposed to be watching sporting displays out in the open but a torrential thunderstorm meant the netball and footie teams had to rush in from the rain.
Soaking wet and highly excited, they ran past the Duke and Duchess each shaking their hands.
Meghan continually rubbed the girls' arms concerned that they were cold.
The royal couple were completely surrounded by screaming fans but they were loving it and left the school having met possibly every member.
Lovers in the rain! (All Images: Getty Images)

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