Old Girtonian Guides VCE Students

The following introduction was made by Mrs Robyn MacCulloch, Deputy Head, Girton Grammar School, at the 2019 VCE Conference.

Guest speaker at this event was Old Girtonian, Dr Kathryn Field (1993) who has had an astonishing career.

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Mr Maruff, Honoured Guests, Colleagues and Students

Dr Field, Kathryn as we know her, is truly one of Girton’s stars.  Indeed, she was one of my History stars, achieving a perfect score in 1993 in VCE History – I remember her well.  Kathryn’s accomplishments since leaving school have been immense and, among the many, I will mention just a few.  Kathryn is a medical oncologist, a cancer specialist, having obtained a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and winning the prestigious University Medal upon completion of her Medical degree at the University of Melbourne and a Masters of Public Health at Harvard University, which she completed in twelve months, whilst on a Fulbright Scholarship. Kathryn was also awarded a Frank Knox Fellowship to Harvard. Kathryn is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and she recently completed her PhD through the University of Melbourne’s Department of Medicine, whilst simultaneously working at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. She also works in clinical medicine in brain and bowel cancer. I could continue to outline Kathryn’s immense contributions to Medicine through the many research projects she has been involved with, her teaching work in Medicine, including at Harvard, and the many, many journal articles she has published in her areas of medical specialist expertise, but it is her time at school that I would like to brief you on tonight. 

Kathryn Field receiving her doctorate at University of Melbourne

Kathryn was a student of Girton College and, fortunately for Girton Grammar, Kathryn did not desert the school when Girton College closed; instead, she continued on and became a founding member of the new school, entering Year 12 in our first year of 1993.  An Ahernian, Kathryn was quick to show her academic mettle.  She was the Dux of her Year level from Year 7 to Year 12. An exceptional Mathematician (Distinctions in the Westpac Australian Mathematics Competition every year, a State Finalist in 1991 and 1992 in the Maths Talent Quest and placed in the top 1% in the University of Melbourne IBM Mathematics Competition in Year 10, Kathryn was also a strong scientist (selected as one of 288 from 2000 competing students to attend the National Summer Science School in Canberra in 1993. Academically, she certainly demonstrated her prowess in being recognised as the first female student in the State in the 1993 VCE and the fifth student overall with a score of 367.8 out of 368.  Kathryn was equally strong in cultural areas, excelling in public speaking (Club and regional winner[RM1]  of the Lions Youth of the Year Contest and a State Finalist in the Plain English-Speaking Competition.  Not content with excelling in her native language, Kathryn also placed Second in the Victorian State Final of the Japanese Language Speech Contest in 1992.  A talented violinist and pianist, Kathryn completed eighth grade in both instruments.  She also sang in the Choir. She competed successfully in all School Athletics and Swimming Carnivals (with many place ribbons to her credit) and represented the School in BDSCSC (Sandhurst) competitions in long distance running, cross country and table tennis.  In her spare time, she composed a String Quartet, wrote a song for the Choir and was a State Finalist in a story writing competition.    Kathryn was, as you can see, a widely involved and outstanding Girtonian in all respects.

Dr Kathryn Field

However, it is not just these outstanding achievements which make Kathryn such a highly regarded Girtonian; it is the way she related to people and her sustained interest in community and global issues.  Kathryn didn’t just talk; she put theory into action. She was co-leader of the school’s Amnesty International Club and a member of the School’s environmental group.  At the invitation of the Peace Education Resource Centre she addressed school students in Melbourne about her reflections on Hiroshima Day; she was a member of the Campaign for International Co-operation and Disarmament and, as a true internationalist, Kathryn developed and maintained many penfriends from around the world.  In recognition of her work in community affairs Kathryn was not only the local winner of the Zonta Young Women in Public Affairs Award, but proceeded on to become the national winner of this prestigious award. This same reaching out and empathy for others saw Kathryn recognised at school for her fine leadership qualities; she was a Peer Support Leader and a Senior Prefect; she was leader of the String Orchestra and the String Ensemble; she also was involved in the School’s Cross-Age Tutoring programme. 

2019 VCE Conference cohort

Comments from her teachers are as follows “Kathryn is a student of exceptional ability. She is a compassionate young woman with a deep concern for the larger issues of today”. “In every respect, Kathryn is an outstanding young Australian”; “Kathryn carries herself in an excellent manner; she is modest in approach, courteous, friendly and exemplary in all that she does”.  Just as these comments reflect the young woman we knew at school, it is undeniable that Kathryn has continued to display these same qualities throughout her work in Medicine.  I invite you now to welcome Dr Field as she comes to the lectern to speak to you.

Students at the 2019 VCE Conference:  [