Where are they now? Amanda Livingstone - 2009
I graduated from THLHS after enjoying multiple years submerged in what I describe as a supportive, thriving and opportunity filled school environment. I was lucky enough to go through high school surrounded by some of my closest friends and supported by a variety of great teachers and role models.
Now, on the other side of the staff room door, I continuously reflect on the student that I was at school and how my actions got me to where I am today; how my actions and choices now allow me to make a difference in young people’s lives each and every day. In 2009, after sitting my HSC exams (which I did not invest enough time in) I was off. I made one of the best decisions to take a gap year in Canada.
A great decision, however, one of the biggest challenges in my life. From getting on the airplane knowing absolutely no one, arriving in a country that I had never explored, meeting a strange family, getting in a small boat to head to an island in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in a wooden cabin in freezing cold conditions, knowing bears were on the island, not sure who to ask for help, becoming physically ill for multiple months, and experiencing a foreign hospital 21 times. What reads as a disaster, or the trip from hell, was actually one of the most rewarding experiences that has shaped who I am today.
During my time involved in the summer camp I got to look after and support not only privileged kids from wealthy families, but also those from low socio-economic backgrounds, from foster care and abusive families. This was a very rewarding and heart touching experience, an experience which made me realise my passion for working with and caring for children. My gap year adventure developed my confidence, communication skills, leadership capacity, the ability to be empathetic and to take each day step-by-step when things get tough; all skills which are paramount to young people as they grow and develop into young adults. In 2011 I started at Charles Sturt University Bathurst.
Like many students having to make decisions, I did not know what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I had an interest in sport, fitness and health. Upon application, I was accepted into a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science. After three years of experiencing university life I had graduated and was headed for my next destination, Wollongong. It was here that I completed a Graduate Diploma in Physical Education at UOW as part of the Masters program, and within 12 months I was a fully qualified young PDHPE teacher. Post university life I was involved with RBCC in Forbes and worked as a casual teacher at Young High School. Not long after beginning work in a casual capacity, I was unexpectedly offered a permanent PDHPE position as part of the Targeted Graduate Program. For me, my next location would be Orange, NSW.
In addition to my role as a physical education teacher at Orange High School, I am also a Residential Advisor at Kinross Wolaroi. This job allows me to care for, to support and to help young people develop and learn the skills needed to be successful. I support and work with young girls aged 13 -18 years as they experience the educational pathway away from their families and local communities. In addition to my work life, I have mastered the ‘work life balance’. I have explored multiple countries alongside some of my closest friends and my sister, met new people, created new relationships, and found a new and loved passion as a triathlete. Life is about balance, about looking after yourself, supporting others and being the best holistic person you can be. Words of advice for students as they transition from school life into the real world:
1. Say yes more. Take on as many opportunities at school and in your community as you can in order to not only build your knowledge base, but most importantly to develop the skills that make up a holistic and employable person.
2. Just do i!. Explore the world, take positive risks and challenge yourself to become a better person, a person who will look back and be proud of what you have attempted and/or accomplished.
3. Value your health and don’t take it for granted. Look after yourself mentally and physically and support your peers when in need.
4. Most importantly, respect your teachers; who knows, you may end up one yourself