Life after Radford – Year 11 Retreat

Posted 05 Mar, 2020

One week on and we are still buzzing from a successful Life after Radford session at the Year 11 Retreat at Warrambui in Murrumbateman.

Our collegians were invited by the Year 11 cohort to attend a session and share their life experiences and journey to where they are now since leaving Radford. Joining the Retreat were Adam Rowland (Class of 1998), James McPherson (2003), John Nicholls (2007) and Aleisha Payoe (Class of 2012).

Our students found the collegians’ stories extremely engaging, with laughter and cheers filling the venue multiple times throughout the two-hour session.

Among the highlights was James’s recollection of being in the music band that performed at the Year 7 disco, and John’s memories of the teacher he found most inspirational, Mr Nick Akhurst.

Our Year 12 Collegian Captains prepared the questions for the session, which were then asked by Year 11 students Kate Daly and Ethan Toscan. Ethan described the session as fantastic, informative and beneficial, adding that the collegians were open and honest about their lives after Radford. It was positive to hear about the different paths into the workforce and good to hear this from someone other than parents or teachers. With the collegians’ open approach, the students were able to listen to some of the life choices that they will be faced with upon leaving at the end of Year 12.

Collegians were asked how easy they found it to decide what to do in life. Taking advantage of opportunities that presented themselves and always backing yourself were words echoed by each of the collegians throughout the session.

John shared that he never found it easy to decide which direction to take, he had fallen into situations because of people that he knew or just out of luck.

James shared that the subjects he selected to study in Years 11 and 12 did not have an impact on his career. Since the age of 5, he was determined to be a pilot, but even that path was not a straight one – James headed to the Canberra Institute of Technology at the end of Year 12 to study Sound Engineering (a passion of his) before finishing a degree.

Adam shared that he is into his fourth career and has not looked back – he has used all the skills he has attained from his experience each time.

Aleisha is now in her dream job at KPMG, but again this was not smooth sailing for her. She followed her parents’ direction and after completing Year 12, Aleisha changed universities twice and took 6 years to complete a degree that did not bring her happiness.

Students and teachers appreciated the collegians’ candour during the session. It was inspiring to witness, and enhanced student engagement with the collegians well after the two-hour session had concluded.

Advice shared by collegians on the evening:

  • Do not be afraid, you are not locked into anything – you should say yes to opportunities as you never know where they will lead.
  • The amazing thing about Radford is the opportunities – (the co-curricular) activities, there are so many options at Radford compared to other schools – take advantage and try everything. You do not know what will stick or what you will be good at.
  • Throw yourself at everything, don’t let other people dictate what you should be doing, follow what you are interested in and what your passions are.
  • Reflect and realise how privileged you are.
  • Do not compare yourself to others and do not follow the crowd.
  • Communicate with your parents about your studies – you path is likely to be different from your parents.
  • Always, always ask for help – do not isolate yourself!
  • Everyone has their own challenges and life struggles – BE KIND and ask people if they are OK!
  • Forge your own path – you only have one life!
  • Your mental health is a real thing and more people than you know suffer from mental illness. There are so many avenues that you can seek help from – use them!
  • BE YOU!
  • Don’t just follow the money. The money will come when you do what brings you happiness.

Related Collegians

James McPherson


Aleisha Payoe


Adam Rowland


John Nicholls


Where are you now?