“I finished school with an ATAR of 99.95 which is the highest you can get.
Honestly, it’s still a mystery to me how I got there. Thinking about the summer before year 12, that was hell on earth. The first big fire of the season started very close to our property – so close we could see the flames coming over the hills as we were evacuating. We thought the house was gone. Luckily, the wind changed and our house didn’t end up burning, but that’s the thing about bushfires: lucky for you is unlucky for someone else. The fire doesn’t stop, it just rips through scrub and kills wildlife or damages someone else’s property instead.
So many of us were already exhausted at the start of year 12, but then COVID hit, and we had to learn online. I went from taking one of my subjects online to all five. Even though we experienced it together, online school felt incredibly isolating. Exams were in early November, but I think by then, I was out of adrenaline. I just wanted to get it done and move on with my life.
It is a huge relief being where I am now, the relief of finishing school. School felt like it was never gonna end. As sad as it sounds, I never imagined myself being at all successful after school. I kind of accepted defeat before I was even defeated. So, opening my tertiary admissions letter and being accepted into my dream course was a massive shock. I am studying a Bachelor of Clinical Sciences and a Doctor of Medicine.
Honestly, it was only this year that I started to think seriously about medicine. I have illnesses that are stigmatized even by many doctors, and I had a lot of experiences with doctors where I felt like I wasn’t being heard. But meeting Jeremy Wells over here, he was very empathetic, and a great listener, and that made me realise that maybe there is a place for me in medicine. He really did inspire me to do this. I was one of two graduates that received a grant through the medical centre this year after I applied through the Kangaroo Island Country Education fund. It’s $5,000 a year for the duration of either a medical degree or nursing degree.
I was born here, and have lived here ever since. I skipped year 2 in school because they decided I didn’t need to do it. I was one of those kids that when you gave me a work sheet that was supposed to take me an hour, I’d be done in 10 minutes and say ‘what’s next?’. ‘Academically gifted’ is the phrase they like to use, but I think we need to be careful how we use that language, so as to not ‘other’ children who happen to learn faster. Throughout school, I learned to equate so much of my worth to grades, and I think that was worsened by living in such a tight-knit community, where sometimes, it can feel like everyone is watching you. It reached a point where I had to stop, and reassess what I was doing – it was really beginning to affect my daily life. I didn’t feel like I had any other qualities that were good, which is unfortunately common among kids like me. It’s still a struggle, but it gets a little easier every day.
My biggest passion, and it might sound strange, is my dogs. I credit so much of my strength to my dog, Ash. Dogs have such a simple, non-judgemental outlook on life, and I think we can benefit greatly from that. You come home thinking about your very human problems – maybe you bombed out on a test, or had a terrible day at work and stuffed a million things up – and your dog will love you all the same, so long as there’s dinner, pats and plenty of love. I have mixed feelings about leaving, but I need something new. I’ve been here so long; I need to experience more of the world. I am going to miss being so close to the ocean and nature. Hearing cars outside my window rather than koalas is going to be bizarre, but it’s also really exciting.”