You attended Girls Grammar on a Maria Sulima Bursary. What did this opportunity mean to you and your family?
The Maria Sulima Bursary enabled me to receive a quality education and exposure to greater Co-curricular activities offered at the School. My mum is a Girls Grammar alumna, and was also a teacher at the School, so I was enrolled at Brisbane Girls Grammar School from birth. Unfortunately, while I was in primary school, my mum became seriously ill and without the Maria Sulima Bursary my parents would not have been in a position to send me to BGGS.
What are some your favourite memories from Girls Grammar?
I loved my time at BGGS and I could probably write a book on my memories! For me, it was an opportunity to try everything to find out what I enjoyed. Most importantly, I made some wonderful friends at Girls Grammar, all of whom are making valuable contributions to the social fabric: following their dreams; working hard in their professions; raising families; and still making time for each other.
I was heavily involved in the BGGS Instrumental Music Program. My favourite memory involves playing the Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto with my friend Courtenay Lind (2000). I also have fond memories of the Marrapatta Memorial Outdoor Education Centre near Imbil with Mr Tim and Mrs Sue Lanham and Mr Mark and Mrs Maryann Munnings—participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, which opened up many opportunities for me beyond school. Lastly, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the educational travel opportunities offered by Girls Grammar through Language Study Tours to Shanghai, and the International Young Physicists’ Tournament in Budapest.
What motivated you to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF)?
I joined the ADF because to me it was an honourable profession, one that requires self-discipline and self-sacrifice but also promises adventure and challenge. Girls Grammar certainly encouraged me to look broadly, keep an open mind and have the confidence to follow a unique path. Attending BGGS on a Maria Sulima Bursary, I was eager to make the most of every opportunity and Girls Grammar fostered the pursuit of excellence, a strong work ethic and sense of adventure—all skills required in the ADF.
What is your current role with the ADF and what have been the highlights of your career to date?
For the past 16 years I have been in the Royal Australian Corps of Signals (three years in the Australian Army Reserve as a soldier and then 13 years in the Army as an officer), working primarily in Information Communication Technology management roles. I am now studying a Bachelor of Nursing, sponsored by the Army, and in 2022 will commence work as an Army Nursing Officer.
My overseas deployments to East Timor and the Middle East have certainly been the highlights of my career. These deployments enabled me to work with some remarkable women and men from professional militaries across the world and also provided an insight into the culture and lives of others. This is humbling, and increases my appreciation for the exceptional quality of life we have here in Australia and in particular, the opportunities available to young women.
Do you have role models? And do you have any advice for students wanting to pursue a career in a traditionally male-dominated sector?
My role models are long-standing military friends. We provide mutual support and advice as well as sharing the highs and lows of life in general. Having a trusted circle of friends within my profession has been invaluable—we have a shared perspective on common issues and stressors, which creates a heightened level of empathy and understanding. I have also worked with, and for, many inspirational women and men in the ADF. I think there are lessons to be learned from anyone in a leadership position, be it traits you want to emulate or behaviours you wish to avoid.
What advice would you share with your younger self?
Have confidence in yourself. Establish a sense of who you are and bring this to everything you do in life; do not let individuals or an organisation fundamentally change you. Keep embracing opportunities as they present themselves and, in the words of one of my first Army drill instructors, listen to what is said not how it is said—look for lessons from mistakes and setbacks.
I often reflect on how fortunate I was to attend Girls Grammar and have the experiences I did—the opportunity to explore my potential.