Donna Karan. Tom Ford. Anna Sui. Marc Jacobs. Get ready to add Nancy Xia to that list.
On the eve of her final assessment pieces being prepared for presentation, Year 12 boarder, Nanxi (Nancy) Xia found out she had been accepted to Parsons School of Design in New York - arguably, one of the world’s leading institutions for fashion design.
Hailing from Shenzhen in China, Nancy was visiting Australia with her family in 2015 when a friend suggested they have a look at Canberra Girls Grammar School. Nancy’s decision to enrol was sealed when she learned about the Art and Fashion subjects on offer at CGGS.
“It was also really uncommon to see an all-girls school, so we had a really high interest,” said Nancy.
“And Canberra is a really quiet city - good for studying!”
Nancy has been interested in fashion for as long as she can remember, and with laser-sharp focus, she put a plan into place to support her goals.
“I started looking into uni when I was in Year 9, that was when I realised that Parsons is the place that I really wanted to go to.”
Despite having to jump through hoops, such as taking the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) multiple times, Nancy’s determination has paid off.
She has been studying English as a Second Language throughout her time at Girls Grammar and consistently earned top grades, however, she was stressed about the TOEFL tests required to get into universities in the United States.
“I thought my English was quite good until I got into that test! It’s really mathematical and scientific!”
As it turns out, Parsons saw beyond the test score and on sighting Nancy’s CGGS report and portfolio, a coveted place was hers.
“I’m going in all alone...but luckily my home back in China is one of the biggest cities, so [New York] is going to be really fast moving, but I feel like that’s the place for fashion.
“In fashion - you have to keep moving, you have to be creative.”
“I’m going to miss Formal, and muck-up day, and graduation, but for me, if I’m going to America to study, I have to prepare for that. I’ve got about a month to prepare for everything until I start.”
Reflecting fondly on her almost-five years at CGGS, Nancy says the friendships she has made are the highlight.
“I am so lucky to have met Mrs (Tina) Twigg (Head of Boarding) and Harry (fellow boarder and best friend, Harriet Wallace).
“Harry really did so much for me and we help each other. Right now she’s studying for her Mandarin test, so I’m helping her.
“I feel like I would definitely be a different person if I had never met her. We were in the same tutor group for the past five years, and she showed me around and she shared her friendship group with me...we’ve spent so much time together.”
Starting at a new school always takes courage, and before long, Nancy found herself coxing while Harriet rowed.
Rowing is just one of the many threads tying Nancy and Harriet together: they are both Robertson girls, both Boarding Captains, and now, both heading to the USA to start the next chapter of their lives.
“It just doesn’t seem real. I feel like I’ve been through a lot, I’ve been preparing my portfolio since Year 11, but deeply in my heart, I feel like I can push myself harder. But if [Parsons] think it’s good, then I’m happy.”