Margaret O'Hara graduation
Margaret O'Hara graduation

Former addict’s incredible graduation story

Two years ago, Margaret O'Hara was serving a jail sentence for supplying and possessing drugs.

Last week, the 25-year-old former ice addict graduated top of her class from Kingston Learning College with a scholarship to help her pursue a dual law and criminology degree.

Margaret O'Hara on the night of her graduation.
Margaret O'Hara on the night of her graduation.


"It feels amazing, I couldn't believe it," the Park Ridge mother said.

"All of my family and my son came, it was the best feeling."

Ms O'Hara dropped out of high school at 16 after being bullied.

She had her son when she was 19 and two years later turned to drugs - a "horrible" chapter of her life that only ended when she was sent to prison.

"It was a big wake-up call I guess," she said.

"It was horrible. At first I loved it for the escape, but in the end I lost everything. I lost my family and disappointed everyone."

Margaret O'Hara received a scholarship and the Desley Scott memorial trophy for her resilience.
Margaret O'Hara received a scholarship and the Desley Scott memorial trophy for her resilience.

In January this year she found Kingston Learning College, a school in Logan that gives second chances to those who have not succeeded in mainstream schools.

"I just went for it," she said.

Ms O'Hara topped biology and was awarded with a $2000 Zonta scholarship and the Desley Scott memorial trophy for her resilience.

She was grateful to the school for helping turn her life around.

"The teachers there are incredible. If it wasn't for them I don't think I would have got to where I am now," she said.

Ms O'Hara has now applied to do a dual degree of law and criminology at Griffith University.

"I just want to show people you can overcome anything," she said.

"I want to be able to help people like they helped me."

Leanne Theodos, deputy principal at Kingston Learning College. Picture: Richard Walker
Leanne Theodos, deputy principal at Kingston Learning College. Picture: Richard Walker

Ms O'Hara's story is not unique at Kingston Learning College.

The school works with people aged 15-50 who have come from challenging backgrounds, dealing with everything from bullying to abuse, addiction and domestic violence.

Deputy principal Leanne Theodos said the school first manages the students' wellbeing before working with them academically.

"By coming here they manage to overcome adversity as we give them a safe and trustworthy context in which to heal, grow and learn," she said.



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