Life beyond Radford

Last updated 26.06.2017

Claire Walters

Class of 2009
Lives Canberra, Australia
Attendance at radford Years 7-12
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What does life look for you now?

Life looks pretty much like what I expected it to be. Sometimes I surprise myself though. I’m 23 and I’ve graduated university, have already worked in the public service since 2011 and now I’m at a well-known prestigious private corporation doing full time work in a permanent role that I never pictured myself in at all. Life has moved really fast and sometimes I wish that I was back in the security that is the school environment – you have far less to worry about there, treasure it while you can!

My parents split right after I graduated Year 12, so that phase of finishing and looking onwards to university wasn’t easy. I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and felt the pressure to go to university, just to say I had, and get a degree. Now, I’m not even using my qualifications. I studied full time and worked full time for half of my degree, I don’t recommend it to anyone – it was incredibly stressful and ultimately I missed a Distinction average by 3 marks. If I hadn’t of been working so much, I think I would have made it.

As a person I think I’ve changed a lot since graduating, my interests and personality are definitely different. I’m into vintage clothing and fashion, camping, fishing, archery and Korean music.

I was lucky enough to be an extra in the Great Gatsby in 2011/12 and had one of the best experiences of my life filming on the set. I made a lot of memories and get a bit of a kick when I see myself up on the screen in some scenes. I skipped out on a bit of university to head up to Sydney to film – thankfully my lecturers were flexible with that but if I had been doing a more structured degree like Psych I think I would have had to turn down the opportunity.

I also did a bit of modeling, landed a modeling contract and turned up in a few magazines now and again. At the moment due to full time work that is definitely something I don’t have a lot of time for anymore but it has been fun and I’m glad I gave it a shot.

What is your favourite Radford moment?

Oh my god, so many. You have no idea how much you’ll miss school until you go. I miss the consistency of seeing my friends every day – it gets harder and harder each year to catch up with people when you start your professional career or move cities etc.

My favourite moments include practicing and performing in the Year 12 Revue and our last day where Ms Walsh chased us all over the school. Also when the Year 11’s had Mr Ryan record a message for us at the Year 12 Breakfast – I am pretty sure a lot of people cried.

I also really enjoyed Year 9 Camp and heading with a group of friends to see the drama productions and musicals.

Can’t go past our Year 12 assembly too and that feeling when you finish your final exam.

Do you have a particular role model or inspirational figure from Radford or now?

Ms Leonard who taught Law in Year 11 and 12 was brilliant. She was so confident and intelligent – a really strong female role model.

How easy was it to decide what to do in life?

I don’t think that choice is ever easy – I’m still deciding. Some days I wake up and wonder whether I want to be stuck in a desk job all my life, or whether I want to go out and go places. I think it’s important to do what makes you happy and that’s cliché I know, but there’s no point in dedicating a large majority of your life to something you hate.

I think it’s important to sit down and really think about what you’re passionate about, not what you think will land you the best paying job in the country. Passion gives you motivation and it gets you places. Pursue realistic ideals that you can set goals to achieve – statistically it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be in your dream job 2 years out of university. I’ve gone through 5 roles since 2011 and I’m still not exactly where I want to be. You may not be where you want until you’re in your 40’s but along the way you will have garnered experience – both work and life, to get you where you want to be eventually.

Did your further study or career go exactly as you'd planned?

I took a gap year before I headed to university and travelled for a bit (Thailand, Vietnam and Japan). I’m glad I did, as university sucks you in ridiculously quickly and all of a sudden you’re overwhelmed with assignments, lecture notes and tutorials that you have no idea what way is up (don’t panic).

Study was difficult with my parents split but I put my head down and kept on going with it. I didn’t really know what I was doing at university, I didn’t know how I was going to apply my degree and I didn’t know where I wanted to end up working. I was studying and working full time for half my degree too and I just ended up burning myself out on multiple occasions. Don’t pile work on. If you’re having issues, talk to your tutor – quite often they’ll understand and find ways to help you out. There are also counseling services at university and I know that a lot of people have used them when the deadlines feel like they’re just getting to be too much.

When I graduated, I sat in the car and was thinking “Right (more forceful words than that were used but..) what am I going to do now?”

I still haven’t used my degree qualifications but the time management and writing skills that I garnered during the 3.5 years have certainly helped me manage the busy office environment. Work deadlines, job management and drafting papers are pretty similar to the way you work through university, so it can be a reasonably easy transition – depending on what you’re going into.

What do you know now, that you wish you'd known when you were at Radford?

I wish I could put me as I am now, back in school. I would have worried so much less about petty dramas and studying for tests (sorry teachers). School is about learning yes, but it’s also about finding yourself and your passions, aims and personality. School gives you so much opportunity to grow, in an environment that is way less confronting than the real world.

What advice do you have for current students?

Just relax, I see so many students putting pressure on themselves to get the highest marks in the class and the highest ATAR possible. Here’s an obvious secret – if you want to get into university, you just need to get the entry level mark for the course you are aiming for. Or, if you end up getting lower, don’t worry! You can still apply, go into university and transfer into that course. Once you’re in, you’re in.

Actually listen to your teachers too, they’ve been in the exact same position you have – they know the stress and the anxiety that you’re going through. You aren’t the first person to sit an ATAR exam and you certainly aren’t the last. Everyone is in the same boat as you, so help each other through it.

Keep your friends, take photos and write down memories. So much of the stuff that happened at school I forget now, heaps of hilarious moments and funny quotes from friends. The years go past really quickly, and all of a sudden you realize that you’re more than halfway to your 10 year reunion.

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