2nd year journalism student at UTS with a passion for social justice, English literature and music.
Thousands of Australian school and university students headed-off to class on Friday March 15, fully intending to walk out halfway through.
They were joining the global call for urgent political action on climate change.
Nineteen-year-old Grace Vegesana was among those leading the Sydney rally.
Like so many other young Australians, she is concerned about the future of our planet and the worsening climate crisis.
Grace felt so strongly about the issue that she joined the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and is now the NSW Coordinator. She was one of the key organisers of the School Strike for Climate rally, through Sydney's CBD.
"I think for the first time in my lifetime, I'm actually seeing young people... leading a movement," she said.
"We were once compared to the 70s generation and the anti-Vietnam war protestors. But it's gone beyond that."
This is a global movement, bigger than anything we've ever seen.
Australia is one of at least 40 countries to have participated in the school strike. Some climate groups predicted as many as 70 countries were involved.
The movement only started in Sweden last August, when then 15-year-old, Greta Thunberg, skipped school and sat down outside the Swedish Parliament with a poster displaying the words "Skolstrejk for Klimatet" (School Strike for Climate).
Greta's actions since then have just led to her being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Honoured and very grateful for this nomination ❤️ https://t.co/axO4CAFXcz— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) March 14, 2019
Greta's solo stand quickly inspired students everywhere.
By November, 15,000 Australian school students were marching in solidarity, for climate change action.
This time around, Grace Vegesana predicted there would be many more than, particularly as the Prime Minister Scott Morrison's call for "less activism in schools", is still fresh in students' minds.
“The irony is, that all of the learning that you’re doing in Geography and Science is also learnt at a protest, because you’re putting forward the facts of climate science and the geological changes that are happening," she said.
"Real change comes from collective responsibility. And that means [the] School Strike for Climate; that means MP meetings," she said. "That means joining as a collective to make sure people power is what drives [us]."
I see the power of 15,000 people standing in front of me, and behind me, and with me.
For Australia, the strike resonated far beyond the classroom.
It followed official acknowledgement of Australia's hottest summer; the controversy over the Murray-Darling water crisis; the ongoing struggle for regional Australia in a time of severe drought; and the devastation caused by floods in Queensland and the weeks-long bushfires in Tasmania.
Grace believes the marches are crucial to drawing attention to what young people are thinking, because those not old enough to vote are easily forgotten by politicians.
And yet, most of the university students taking part, will be voting in May's Federal Election.
Grace shares the AYCC's vision of creating a sustainable world by 2030.
Her intense passion for the issue of climate change has also driven her studies. She's currently undertaking a double degree in Environmental Management and Law, which she hopes will lead to the study and practice of Environmental Law. - Jacinta Neal @Jacinta_Neal
*You can learn more about the School Strike for Climate, on the official website.