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Class of 2021: 1 Year Reunion
The Girton Grammar Class of 2021 and those who would have graduated in 2021 are warmly invited to the GPO Bar and Restaurant in Bendigo for a night of friendship and fun. The event will officially start at 6pm with finger food served until 8.00pm, after which time you are welcome to remain at the venue and enjoy each other’s company. Date: Friday 2nd December, 2022 Time: 6:00pm til late Venue: GPO Bar and Restaurant, The Courtyard Cost: OGA members are free and non-members are $20. Drinks at bar prices Register via: www.trybooking.com/CDKBJ
How to Make a Baby
Audrey Scott (Jenkin, 2011) always wanted to work in maternal and foetal health. Still, she did not imagine her job would involve creating human life, which is how she now spends her days as a clinical embryologist at Monash IVF. Audrey describes her career as highly rewarding and says the circuitous route that led her to work in a laboratory to create embryos has been a valuable part of her career journey. “I thought I would end up working as an obstetrician or paediatric doctor, but I am much happier working in my highly specialised field because my role helps give hope and provide patients with a family when they might otherwise have been without hope or options. “The world of Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) also helps the LGBTIQA+ community with sperm and egg freezing for transitioning/preserving fertility, and helping create families with donated sperm and/or eggs, and surrogacy. “We can help oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy preserve fertility through egg and sperm freezing. We can also perform genetic testing on embryos, which helps prevent devastating genetic disorders from being passed on to children,” Audrey said. Audrey has undertaken four formal courses of study since leaving Girton. Initially, she completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Deakin University, followed by two years of a Doctor of Medicine at the University of Wollongong. “For several reasons, medicine was not the path I was meant to tread, but I am very proud of myself for getting into it (an achievement in itself), and I have no regrets about the journey that led me there. “I made lots of wonderful friends, and I don’t ever ask myself “what if”, which is satisfying,” she said. When Audrey returned to Melbourne, she completed a Graduate Diploma of Reproductive Science (Monash University), her first taste of the embryology world. It included learning about Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) for animal conservation of endangered species and for commercial sales, such as in the bovine industry, where sperm from prized stud bulls is collected and frozen using ART techniques for commercial sale worldwide. Audrey’s focus on embryonics then turned to humans when she undertook a Masters in Clinical Embryology (Monash University), where her studies focussed on human reproductive technology, including medicine, hormones, and the many skills required in the lab to create embryos, including insemination, handling, freezing, thawing, and embryo transfer. “Embryologists require excellent hand-eye coordination, as most of our work is performed in humidicribs (so we can mimic the uterine environment as much as possible) with microscopes and micro-manipulators, so it is incredibly detailed and delicate work,” Audrey said. Audrey commenced at Girton in Year 6 in 2005 and graduated in 2011. She completed a 3-month exchange to Bordeaux, France, at the end of Year 10 and was a Senior Prefect in Year 12. Audrey had two favourite teachers. “It’s a tie between Dr Harvey (now O’Rielly) for Biology and Ms Ryan for Chemistry. I love science, and their passion and dedication to the field encouraged me to push myself and strive for perfection, which serves me well in my career. “Also, having such talented female mentors for ‘women in STEM’ is powerful, and it was incredibly exciting to see them succeed in the industry. “At Girton, I never felt that such a path was unachievable or unattainable for me because I was a woman, and my Girton teachers helped set me up with all the tools, encouragement, and mentors needed to forge my own path in the industry,” she said. Audrey has lived and studied in Geelong, Wollongong, and Melbourne over the past 11 years. Her main part-time job during undergrad studies was as a fromagère for delicatessens in Barwon Heads and Bendigo. A Francophile at heart, Audrey enjoyed the break from heavy science/ medicine studies. “Working in a role where I could sell cheese to customers and discuss and learn about wine and charcuterie pairings was a relief. Working in the food industry when you are a poor uni student is always a smart idea because the free meals help a lot with budgeting.” Audrey says that her career highlight to date is the first pregnancy achieved from an embryo transfer she completed. “It was incredibly exciting. The patient is currently still pregnant, and I look forward to seeing the notes in her file when she (hopefully) delivers her baby in a few months. “Before COVID, patients would sometimes bring their babies into the clinic so we could meet the little humans that we made from the sperm and eggs in the lab. I hope these visits will start up again one day. “Patients still send in photos which are shared between the nurses, doctors, and embryologists, because everyone has a role to play in helping that new human be created; it’s a moment of shared joy for everyone involved,” she said. Audrey currently lives with her partner in Melbourne in an apartment they are renovating. She recently gave her time to share her personal and professional life with Year 12 students at an OGA Careers Event. Audrey and her partner Alexander Audrey with her parents Robert and Marina at her Master’s Graduation, 2021 Audrey with her parents and two sisters
Valedictorian to Velodrome
When Alessia McCaig (Jenkin 2021 and School Vice Captain) was in her Adelaide homestay hoping for a phone call to confirm her selection for the 2022 Commonwealth Games cycling team, she was so nervous she decided to douse herself in a refreshing shower. No sooner had the water begun to wash away her nerves, did her phone ring. She sprung out of the shower like a cat to receive the good news that she was going to Birmingham. “I was basically in shock when I took that phone call,” Alessia said. “Going to the Commonwealth Games is the stuff of dreams, so it was a very surreal moment, and I don’t remember saying much on the phone other than thank you. Alessia at the Commonwealth Games with her Dad Cameron, Mum Ree and brother Connor (Jenkin 2018) “I rang mum and dad straight away with the news, however, we had to keep my selection quiet for three weeks while a whole lot of administration took place. “My brother was the next person to know I was going to the Commonwealth Games and then when it was publicly announced, my phone exploded,” she said. Alessia is part of the Australian Cycling Team, training at the Australian Institute of Sport. Along with her Australian teammates, she is based in Adelaide because Canberra (where the AIS is based) does not have an indoor velodrome. In Birmingham at this year’s Commonwealth Games, there were five athlete villages. Four of these were in and around Birmingham and one was in London where the velodrome was located and where cyclists from all over the world congregated to compete in the various Commonwealth Games cycling events. Alessia describes the cycling community; “All cycling competitors were in the London village in a really nice hotel, which was part of an enormous Westfield complex. “Because of COVID we had individual rooms with an enormous king size bed, so that was pretty nice. “Each country basically occupied a different floor of the hotel and there were not enough rooms for our coaches who had to stay in another hotel. It probably wasn’t ideal, but the reduced scrutiny was appreciated by the athletes! “There was a degree of comfort knowing that everyone you bumped into at the hotel was a cyclist and on a similar journey to your own. One of the most memorable nights was playing an international game of Uno with cyclists from all over the world,” Alessia said. The COVID situation in Birmingham during the Games was not a defining feature of the athlete’s experience, but there were testing requirements. “We had to register a negative COVID result seven to ten days before departure, 72 hours before arriving in the village and then again upon arrival at the village. “After that, we were only required to COVID test if we developed symptoms, similar to the current situation in Australia,” she said. Food in the athlete village is sometimes legendary at Commonwealth and Olympic Games and Alessia said the daily spreads were impressive. “We had buffet-style meals to suit all nations. Cyclists came from the African and Indian continents, and from all over Europe so there was food to suit all cultures. “All meals were buffet style but if we were at the velodrome at lunchtime, we packed food from the buffet and took it with us so it wasn’t entirely glamorous!” Alessia is not on a particular diet to suit her training and competing, but she is well educated in what works for her and conscious of eating well. “I make sure that I eat a lot of carbohydrates, veggies and plenty of protein. I basically try to make sure I have a balanced diet. “We have a nutritionist who oversees the athletes’ diet and gives advice. She is very good. She spoke to me a few weeks before the games and diagnosed that I was not eating enough which was evident from my recovery and sleep patterns. She got me back on track in time for the Commonwealth Games,” Alessia said. At the Birmingham Games, Alessia competed in four cycling events, all in the velodrome. The Team Sprint (three riders on the track at the same time); the Individual Sprint (a three lap ‘cat and mouse’ race with two riders on the track); the 500 m time trial (one rider on the track completing two laps from a standing start as fast as possible) and the Keirin (a six lap race with riders following a pace car for the first three laps, then sprinting the next three). The 500m time trial is Alessia’s favourite event and the occasion in Birmingham in which she achieved her best result, placing 8th. Her Commonwealth Games debut moment was in the Team Sprint, where she was the first rider for her team. “My heart rate was really high and I was just trying to breathe normally. I was super nervous. “It’s not actually the most nervous I have been in my cycling career. That moment was at my first international event a few months ago, the Nations Cup in Glasgow. I saw myself on the big screen as I lined up for the start and went to water. I think it’s the reality of the moment reflected so dramatically back at you that got me. It’s a big enough moment as it is, without being visually reminded. “When I lined up again as the first rider in the Team Sprint at the Commonwealth Games, I again saw myself on the big screen. This time, I took a big breath and I was OK. “The crowd was massive and very loud in Birmingham. After competing, on video I saw the crowd get silenced for the count down at the start of our race. But as soon as you take off, there is a crazy uproar,” Alessia said. When asked if she is happy with all her Commonwealth Games event results, Alessia says “mostly”. “We came 4th in the Team Sprint in a bronze medal ride-off. That was unexpected and a great result. “I was disappointed with how I rode in the Individual Sprint. My 200m qualifying time was disappointing. I just had to deal with it. I had a bit of a moment and let the emotions out, talked about it and moved on. “We have good support in these circumstances and trainers to help us move through the process of getting through tough moments. “One of our trainers saw I was upset. She suggested I go outside and take twenty minutes to process the result. She also made it clear she expected me back at a certain time. I guess she wanted me to reflect, but not wallow in the result. “I managed to bounce back and got very close to my personal best in the 500m time trial. I was really happy to be 8th in an international field of such high-quality athletes and also pleased to make it through to the finals in the Keiren,” she said. Alessia with fellow athletes at the Commonwealth Games Alessia believes she has learned a lot from being a Commonwealth Games competitor. About track racing, about life and about herself. At just 19 years of age, she believes there is much more to learn. “I think the biggest lesson from the Games was learning about dealing with emotions. I am totally reliant on my body to perform at my best, but it means nothing if I can’t also rely on my mindset. “My race tactics have been honed and I’ve learned more about how to go about setting and achieving goals now that I’ve done it once at this elite level. “The thing I am most proud of is my ability to bounce back. You don’t really know you can do it until it happens, so it’s not an entirely bad thing to have a disappointing result this early in my international career. Now I know I can bounce back if I have future moments of disappointment and that’s really good to know about yourself.” Alessia’s next big sporting goal is to represent Australia at the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. She says it will take her current amount of commitment, and some. With at least three gym sessions each week of two-hour duration and three track sessions of three-hour duration, Alessia and her AIS teammates spend approximately 15 – 17 hours training each week in the sport they love. “It’s fair to say I am often tired! We do have a lot of time on the weekends to chill out and that usually includes a low-key road ride that takes in a coffee shop or two. “I really like Adelaide. I am living in my own little rental place now, in the northeast in a suburb called Campbelltown. “Cycling is basically my full-time priority right now, and the AIS provides a basic income to cover living expenses. They also provide all of the cycling equipment that the team uses, and the AIS has some sponsors, so we get various sports food, clothing and other benefits from the sponsorship. “I am also studying on the side. I am doing Health Science online at Charles Darwin University, which is a pathway into chiropractic studies. I hope to get into the Australian Chiropractic College. “I am still in contact with Girton friends – Ingrid, Tom and Erin are all in Adelaide so that’s fantastic. “It was quite an adjustment moving out of home and I found it quite difficult at first because I am very family oriented. It’s better now that I have my own space and routine,” Alessia said. The Sports Excellence Programme (SEP) at Girton can accommodate elite athletes by allowing their training and recovery to be time-tabled into their week and Alessia said it was a huge benefit to her to have completed the programme while at Girton. “I did the SEP right through to Year 12. Mr Smalley was fantastic, and Mr Furphy was a big support. “The programme allowed me to do my training at school rather than having to do it at home, therefore, I could spend more time studying. Recovery sessions at school were useful after competing. “There was flexibility too, so if I did not have training during a particular day or I needed to catch up on a SAC I could study during my SEP time. “I would highly recommend doing SEP in Year 12 to any Girton athletes competing at a high level. “I am a Girton ‘lifer’, having attended the school from Prep to Year 12. The school has always supported my sporting pursuits. I feel like the school was loyal to me. “Girton taught me life lessons that I can take into sport, and life outside of school. I am very grateful to the school and the teachers for being there for me,” Alessia said.
Engineered to Succeed
In her professional life, Sue Brown has taken one job at a time with no specific ambition to be at the top of a corporate tree. And yet, from where she currently sits, the view is panoramic. Sue graduated from Girton in 1990 (Aherne) and now reports to the CEO of a major global engineering firm, Worley, that delivers projects for the energy, chemicals and resources sectors. Worley is an Australian company with 50,000 people working in 49 countries, delivering various engineering and consultancy projects. The organisation is instrumental in delivering the projects that will decarbonise our global energy system and supply chains. Sue’s current job title is Executive Group Director, Sustainability, and her work is as impressive as it sounds. Sue recently attended the OGA 30-year reunion and spoke with Alumni Manager Kristi Mitchell about her life and work. Here is what Sue had to say; Sue’s yearbook quote from the 1990 Girtonian “In Year 12, I studied Maths A, Maths B, Chemistry, French, English. At Girton, there were quite a few influential teachers. I liked Miss Pitzer for her organised and succinct way of presenting the material. These are attributes I value now in a work context. I also had a teacher called Miss Mattschoss, who taught some of the maths and chemistry subjects in Years 11 and 12. I liked her because she was very organised and methodical but would also have a laugh with us occasionally. Mr Schumann, who taught maths, was also very good. Straight after graduating from Girton, I went to Melbourne University and completed a combined Chemical Engineering and Science degree. Approximately ten years into my career, I did some post-graduate level studies in Climate Change at the Australian National University. When I was a teenager, I saw a documentary about pollution and the environmental impact of industry and thought it was something I’d like to help improve. Then, at Girton, I found myself in many maths/science classes with overseas students who wanted to be engineers. I had no idea what an engineer was, and I can honestly say that my fellow students at Girton even put it on my radar. When the university ‘open days’ occurred in Melbourne, I visited the engineering schools to learn more about what they did. To be perfectly frank, my mother was not at all happy that I was going to study engineering. She was very keen that I study medicine, but that didn’t capture my imagination like engineering did. I loved my time at Melbourne Uni and have always ‘clicked’ with fellow engineers over the course of my career. They are very smart, very humble and very can-do. The training from an engineering degree gives you very highly developed problem-solving skills that can be applied in any number of situations. Straight out of my degree, I took the unorthodox step of working for the government with the Victorian Environment Protection Authority. I loved my time there (five and a half years). I did a lot of on-the-job learning about the different industrial companies operating in Melbourne’s western suburbs and the various environmental issues they had. I got good exposure to environmental legislation. One of the great things about that job was that I got thrown into the deep end and was on the front line of ensuring legal compliance for all sorts of issues with big companies. At the end of my time with EPA, I worked with all the major oil companies on a range of issues, including a significant shared historical contamination issue that BP had. BP later tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to join their team and manage the environmental issues in the APAC region for their downstream assets. I had some reservations about moving ‘to the other side’, but I liked the team at BP, and they were leaders in terms of the environmental performance of all the oil companies I’d had anything to do with. It was a really exciting time to be at BP because the global CEO, Lord John Browne, was the first to accept that climate change was due to human activity, that the oil industry had played a role and that the global energy supply needed to decarbonised. He described all this in a renowned speech at Stanford University in 1997. I built a team at BP and really got them ready to face the increasing scrutiny that regulators were applying to their operations. Sue and her husband Greg in Malibu earlier this year I took a break to have a couple of kids toward the end of my time with BP and then spent two years with AGL leading an environmental/sustainability team there. At AGL, I had my first involvement in reporting up to the Board level of the company. That was interesting, and AGL is also a very dynamic business and was building many large wind farms at that time, so it was exciting to learn more about that. From AGL, I then joined WorleyParsons (now Worley). I joined WorleyParsons to lead a team of consultants. It was the first time in my career that I had profit and loss accountability. I found that very challenging, as shortly after I joined the iron ore and oil prices tanked, which meant that many companies delayed projects they had planned, and we were in the midst of a major downturn after years of boom. I spent much of my first 18 months with Worley trying to redeploy people in my team or letting them go. Three years ago, I got a corporate role within Worley, leading our Corporate Affairs function. I loved my time in Corporate Affairs, in which I oversaw our government engagement program, focusing on elevating our corporate profile, especially in Australia, where I think we are a little-known success story. Now I lead an agenda that is central to our company’s purpose and business strategy. I had no particular aspiration to achieve this level in corporate Australia. I have always just wanted to work in the environmental/sustainability arena with industry and to do interesting and challenging work. Hands down, the most impactful life change, aside from having three kids and the inherent chaos it brings, is dealing with my husband’s serious and complex health issues, which developed after we were married. A few years into our marriage, my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. It was picked up by chance and then laid dormant for approximately 7-8 years and had no impact on our day-to-day life. Then, in 2016, the doctors started picking up some changes in his status, leading to two years of intensive medical treatment and interventions. I can honestly say that those two years were the most difficult of my life. I had children aged 2, 8 and 10 years and worked part-time through the period, with some chunks of leave during specific treatment regimes. It was a relentless slog for two years – waiting for test results, waiting for appointments with relevant specialists, undergoing treatment, experiencing unanticipated side effects, and various unexpected twists and turns on the way. Having come out the other side of that intense experience has had a lasting impact on my gratitude for all I have and my ability to manage incredibly stressful situations. I think having weathered that storm, I matured and became more resilient, which are attributes I think factored into me being in the executive role I now have at Worley. Sue at 10 Downing Street in November 2021 with Worley CEO, Chris Ashton
Class of 2021 One Year Reunion
The class of 2021 closed out the year by reconnecting with old schoolmates at their 1 Year reunion on Friday 2nd December. We can’t wait to see this terrific bunch of Old Girtonians again at their 5 year reunion!
Benjamin Greenall Aces 2022 OGA Departing Girtonian Scholarship
Benjamin Greenall (12 Riley) not only dreams of becoming a professional tennis player, but he is working hard to make it happen. The Year 12 Girton student trains consistently and is working two jobs to support his plans. While his ultimate goal is to travel to the USA to play tennis for an American college, Ben’s “Plan B” is to study Sports and Exercise Science, and Business (Sports Management) at Deakin University and play tennis tournaments in Australia. With this level of commitment, you may be forgiven for thinking it would be love-40 for his School performance and involvement, and not in Ben’s favour, but that is simply not the case. An outstanding leader and “all-rounder”, Benjamin Greenall is this year’s winner of the 2022 OGA Departing Girtonian Scholarship and is now several points closer to his dreams. Every year, the Old Girtonians’ Association grants a $2,500 Scholarship to a departing student who espouses all the qualities of an upstanding Girtonian. One of those qualities is leadership, a trait Ben has displayed wholeheartedly throughout his time at Girton. Between Years 7 and 11, Ben received half and full Colours in a number of areas, including Drama, Music, the Girton Racing Team, Tennis and Riley House. He was Captain of Riley House and the Girton Racing team in Year 11 and received the Harvard Club of Victoria Prize for excellence in scholarship and character that same year. He was School Tennis Captain while undertaking his Year 12 studies this year. Ben is a great contributor to the community, completing community service for Australia Day activities throughout his time in Senior School and more recently the Red Shield Appeal. He also volunteered weekly with a not-for-profit between 2018 and 2020, where he helped repair second-hand bikes that were then donated to people in need. Ben is described as a person who leads by example, and actively displays enthusiasm, empathy, professionalism, sportsmanship, and compassion. His genuine nature and people skills see him well-liked by fellow students, teachers, parents, colleagues and peers. Ben’s tennis coach and President of South Bendigo Tennis Club President, Aidan Fitzgerald, said, ”I couldn’t speak more highly of Ben. I’m honoured to have played a small part in Ben’s life and I can’t wait to see what great things he does in the future. You could not get a more worthy recipient for this scholarship.” When asked during his scholarship interview what advice Ben would give to a new student entering Girton Grammar School, he had some telling advice. “Try everything, do everything, and don’t give up. I tried lots of Co-curricular activities when I was younger, and I think that was the best thing about Girton. No matter your interests, they offer a huge range of options, and you’ll find something that you like.” We just love Ben’s attitude. The OGA congratulates Benjamin on becoming the recipient of the 2022 OGA Departing Girtonian Scholarship. We hope this scholarship sends him on his way to a Grand Slam.
Sixty Year Reunion
A wonderful 60 Year reunion (1958-1964) was held for Old Girtonians on Friday 4th November. The event marked the Diamond Anniversary for 23 former students who returned to Girton to enjoy a morning tea together in the d’Helin Building, where there was joyful rekindling of friendships and exuberant conversation. This was followed by a school tour with Head of Junior School, Mr Don Thompson, who regaled our guests with Girton folklore as they toured Frew Hall, the Higgs Hall and Girton House. Alumni shared tales about their days as a boarder or a ‘day girl’ and spoke fondly of both Headmistress Miss Jean d’Helin and piano teacher, Miss Winifred Batterham. It was here that we farewelled this delightful group of Old Girtonians as they moved on to The National to share in a long lunch together.
Classes of 1970, 71 & 72 Fifty Year Reunion
The Classes of 1970, 71 & 72 reunited on Friday 21st October 2022 for a 50-year reunion. Ten classmates reunited at the school for a morning tea, where they met Girton Principal, Dr O’Rielly. This was followed by a school tour with Head of Junior School, Mr Don Thompson, where there was much laughter as old tales from school were re-lived and friendships rekindled. These lovely Old Girtonians were then farewelled as they joined others at the Wine Bank for lunch. Special thanks to Cheryl Payne who arrived with a suitcase full of memorabilia which was very generously donated to the OGA archives. A special mention must go to Faye who arrived in her old school uniform much to the delight of her old schoolmates. See you at the 60 Year Reunion!