A student who dropped out of university due to rising costs of living described herself as “privileged” when she campaigned for the Greens in the last election.
Bella Mitchell-Sears, 20, was at the center of a viral exchange on Monday night when she told an ABC question-and-answer panel that her dream of becoming a high school teacher had been destroyed by the constant increase in living costs.
She said she felt “forced to put my education on hold because I need to work full time to support myself” and dropped out of her courses at the University of Melbourne as a result.
It was the second time Ms. Mitchell-Sears has appeared on the show since 2020 to express concerns about the rising cost of college and her own ability to pay for an education.
But before finding her passion for teaching, Ms Mitchell-Sears dreamed of being a politician and campaigned for the Fraser Greens West Melbourne seat during the 2022 federal election, holding a poster of Lidia Thorpe in your front porch.
Bella Mitchell-Sears, 20, has appeared on ABC Q&A twice since 2020 to express concerns about the rising cost of college courses and her own ability to pay for an education.
Photos from early in her campaign show banners of Ms Mitchell-Sears alongside Lidia Thorpe, who was campaigning for re-election to the Senate at the same time.
The seat, which is held by Labour, was tilted 6.6 per cent towards Ms Mitchell-Sears during her campaign, but finished third behind the two main parties.
In a campaign speech before the election, Ms Mitchell-Sears noted that she is “extremely privileged in many aspects of life.”
“I am a white, cisgender, middle-class woman with a stable job and education,” she said.
‘Not everyone in my community is as lucky as I am. Both major parties are leaving people in our electorate behind, and it will be my generation that suffers the consequences.
“Both major parties fail to take action on climate change, childcare and education are becoming inaccessible to many, and the cost of living continues to rise while the rich continue to get richer.”
He advocated for stronger climate action along with free and accessible child care and education.
Photos from early in her campaign show banners of Ms Mitchell-Sears alongside Thorpe, who was campaigning for re-election to the Senate at the same time.
Mrs Thorpe has since left the Greens and is now an independent in Parliament.
But on Monday night, Ms Mitchell-Sears said she had changed her mind about her political ambitions.
“Last time I asked a question… and I think it was the Labor member (who) said you have to go out and get involved in politics and that’s exactly what I did,” he said.
But I don’t feel like it’s for me. However, I still want to get a degree in arts.’
Before finding her passion for teaching, Ms Mitchell-Sears dreamed of being a politician and campaigned for the Fraser Greens West Melbourne seat during the 2022 federal election.
The 20-year-old grew up in Footscray and attended the local public schools, where she excelled.
He entered a Bachelor of Arts course at the prestigious University of Melbourne majoring in Politics and Media.
He’s worked various hospitality jobs to make ends meet over the years, listing Grill’d, Boost Juice, and McDonald’s among his part-time jobs.
“My bills keep going up, owning a home seems like a pipe dream and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to get better,” Ms. Mitchell-Sears told Q&A.
‘What would you say to me and other young people in my position, and why should I decide between getting an education or putting food on the table?’ she asked the television panel.
She described herself as ‘privileged’ during her campaign as a Green candidate alongside Lidia Thorpe in the 2022 election.
Nationals deputy leader Perin Davey suggested that Ms. Mitchell-Sears consider moving to a regional community to pursue a career in teaching.
“If you want to be a high school teacher, a policy we fought for in the last parliament… and thankfully, credit where it’s due, Labor got it back, was to waive HECS debts for major industries,” said the Mrs. Davey.
‘If you earn your degree and commit to a four-year term in the regions, your HECS debt is waived. Consider that as an option for the future.
Labor MP Josh Burns encouraged Ms Mitchell-Sears to consider her options, noting that a review of the nation’s university system will take place.
“I think it was a retrograde step to make liberal arts degrees more expensive (under the Morrison government),” Burns said. ‘I certainly don’t support that.’
Victorian woman Bella Mitchell-Sears stunned Monday night’s ABC question-and-answer panel with the revelation that her cost of living is so high she had to drop her college degree.
Ms. Mitchell-Sears first appeared on the show in 2020, before launching a political career.
At the time, she was a Year 12 student trying to get through the year during Victoria’s Stage 4 Covid lockdown.
She asked the politicians on the panel at the time, Andrew Bragg and Jordon Steele-John, how they ‘justified’ the decision to increase the cost of art titles.
She said: ‘Recent changes have sent the price of my degree skyrocketing, making a political career seem more out of reach.
‘How do you justify drastically increasing the price of my tertiary education, especially in already shaky economic times?’