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Only a Ruse-ite would know the shame and embarrassment of getting a TER of 93. After not really applying myself through year 11 and 12, after my discovery of BOYS, I went from a potential 100 to 93. Not that I cared at the time. I only wanted to be a teacher, anyway, and at that stage I only needed 86 to get into teaching. I wanted to be an inspiration like so many of my teachers were to me.
Now I’m older and wiser, well I know how to pretend to be, anyway. My point is that I was walking down the street the other day. In Wagga Wagga (of all places, that happens to be where I live now) and I saw a fellow Ruseite. I identified him because he was wearing a jersey. A 2001 jersey, so it was exactly 10 years behind my time; but I wanted to stop him and chat to him. I felt a connection to the poor, young boy. This is a big step for me. Some one who has avoided most of my X-school mates because of a stupid inferiority complex is now really keen to interact. They always come back, I guess.
Now I am studying again. After a fairly unsuccessful stint as a teacher – I loved the kids and I loved my teaching areas (Maths and ESL – thanks Mr Canty, Mr Lowcock and Mrs Cannon) but I always felt under-utilised. I wanted to do so much more as a teacher but I could see that the public education system was not a place where one could readily excel. I directed school plays and ran the peer mentoring programme (Mrs Yeates gets the credit here!) as coordinator and trainer for the students but I still wanted to do more.
I investigated ways to extend my learning to go into a career that I would find challenging and fulfilling and after many days in a career information centre, narrowed it down to pharmacy or chemical engineering (thanks Miss Jenns). I thought to myself that it was worth applying through UAC even with my not so hot academic record and found that I scraped into pharmacy and I love it! I absolutely love it. The second time around at Uni I got involved.
Being at a country university enabled me to get actively involved in the student association without having to be affiliated with any political party (unlike a few of the bigger metropolitan unis). They were just happy to have someone willing to get involved. It is kinda like being on the SRC but with much bigger and potentially even more important decisions being made. I am Vice President of the Student Association and editor of the student publications. I love it. I am looking at starting my honours year next year and at the ripe old age of 32, things are finally happening for me that could have happened 10 years ago if I had only known to grasp opportunities as they arose and not be scared.
I am now looking at working part-time as a pharmacist, once I graduate, and investigating science journalism and political lobbying and policy direction in the areas of Health Care and PBS, particularly addressing the inequities between the have and have-nots in society and representing the pharmacy industry. I guess a lot of this is my Ruse experiences coming to the fore. The only time that the rich and poor kids were ever possibly differentiated was waiting for the buses at 3.05. I was on the Parramatta bus and so obviously was one of the Westies. Teachers and students had no part in this. It was merely geographical. My opportunities were never limited by where I lived and how much money my single-parent-family-with-six-kids did not have.
Feeling like a failure is the stupidest thing I ever did. I remember being overseas on exchange when all my friends got their HSC results. I was heart broken that they were so smart and I felt so inferior.
I didn’t stop that guy walking down the street and I guess I regret not doing so: but next time, watch out because I have come to terms with the fact that I am just me and James Ruse and the teachers there played a big part in who I am and where I am now. If only I had learnt the lesson that they probably tired to teach me but I was too insecure to learn – take every opportunity while you can.
If you have gotten this far, thanks for reading my ramblings…
Does anyone need an organiser for our 15 year reunion next year? If no one answers, I’ll just organise it myself!
Heidi Barnes (1991)
PS Life does not end at 30….!
“I completed my PhD from the veterinary pathology department of Edinburgh University (Scotland) in February of this year. The PhD was loads of fun, involving a lot of touring round the Scottish countryside collecting and post morteming dead wildlife (I even got to go all the way up to Shetland). Edinburgh is a wonderful, wonderful city – definitely one of the greatest places on earth and everyone should make a pilgrimage to it at one time or other in their life!
I’m now in another continent, working as a post-doctoral research fellow in the department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University, New York. (That’s New York state, meaning I am about 6 hours north of New York city, even so, its not been an easy month for obvious reasons.) I’m researching the DNA-binding proteins of the herpes simplex virus. It’s a lot more exciting than it sounds, honestly! Cornell University is huge, immensely well funded, and bloody freezing in winter.”
Pecky De Silva
“Well, I am working at Liverpool Hospital. Its my third year out after finishing medicine at UNSW and I’m working currently as the neurosurgical registrar. I’m sort of somewhere at the beginning of a career in surgery with years of training ahead…”
“I’m working in radiation oncology at Westmead Hospital, only a few km from our old school. I live in Toongabbie, also not too far from JR. I can’t seem to get away from the place –there are Ruse old-boys/girls crawling all over my workplace. Also, am married now and have a cat but no kids.”
“These days I spend as much of my time as I can riding my mountain bike, backcountry telemark skiing, playing squash and building a dirt Yurt. Earlier this year I spent 5 weeks mountain biking around Hawaii – big hills, good fun. I have also done some mountain biking and walking in Tassie, some trekking in Nepal (with Glenn) and some honeymooning in Borneo (not with Glenn).
When not pursuing these activities I am a patent attorney with Freehills which is great fun as I continually get to run into ex-Ruse people and see all sorts of cutting edge inventions as well as a whole bunch of crap ones.”
“Life’s a bit frenetic at the moment as I put the finishing touches to my PhD thesis. My topic is computer modelling of the aerodynamics of automobile engines, a collaboration between the University of Technology Sydney, and Bishop Innovation, a Sydney based engineering research firm. I start work at Bishop as an employee in about 2 weeks – real job at last!
I’ve done a lot of mountain biking, walking, canyoning and skiing over the last few years, and have recently done a fair amount of orienteering. To use my outdoors skills for community service, I am active in the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad, a volunteer rescue squad involved in remote area search and rescue (such as lost bushwalkers and plane crashes). I have done many trips and expeditions with Darren Gardner, including a Nepal trekking/mountaineering expedition.”
“I miss my school days. Not for the school which was shabby, nor my academic achievements which were paltry, nor the sporting glories or the breaking of young hearts. I just miss having someone there. Someones who knew your name, and what you did and who you were. One hundred and forty odd someones who from week to week gave life some sort of community context that is so absent in “real life”. Rugby seasons. Cricket seasons. School plays. Exams. Swimming carnivals. Excursions to Canberra. Cadet parades. A free movie at the end of term. Life was once measured in this primitive calendar and things were at once more important and more trivial than they ever were.
Old enough to drive dad’s car but too young to work. Old enough to drink and to smoke. To stay out all night – but not have to work in the morning. No rent, no bills to pay. Nirvana, it seemed, was never more than a lunch break away.
I remember Matt Holden’s cars, Mrs Cannon’s accent, Mr Dunkerley’s ties and Mr Mathews’ safari suit, which would appear in a burst of colour once a year like some migratory bird. I remember the try I scored against Epping, carrying half their team on my back on the way to the line. I remember Boris Edwards & his band The Pleasure. I remember Heartbreak Hill and twelve minute runs and Luke Macnab always chipping over the top in touch footy.”
“Since finishing a business degree in ’95 I’ve been working in various jobs within the Finance / funds management industry. In the main, my roles can be loosely classified as “accounting” and in most instances had involved some form of financial analysis and management support. In keeping with the spirit of change and renewal, I’m starting a new role as a business analyst specialising in management information system next month while finishing off a postgrade degree and whatever little time I’ve got left to myself tend to involve things soccer related.”
“And I thought six years of studying agriculture was a waste of time? Not so! It has helped me categorically avoid the temptation of getting sheep to eat the grass on the modest 27 acres of paddock where I am currently living in Central Victoria. Local farmers find my aversion to crutching sheep amusing and (probably concerned about fire hazards of long grass) lend me some of theirs. It’s a picturesque backdrop and red river gums are incredible.
In between avoiding the sheep, worrying about running out of water in our tanks and waging heroic battles against spider infestations I run a business out of Bendigo. My business is centered around the idea of photographic narrative: using words and photographs together to tell a story. These are usually exhibits, combining photographs and first person interviews in a single art-work.”
“I have been spent the last year living in London at Goodenough College (a residential college for mainly overseas post-graduate students) and working for the London office of Minter Ellison, Lawyers while Robert has been taking the first year of his MBA at the London Business School. This year we are both full-time students and I have officially enrolled as a student of University College London reading for my Master of Laws (Intellectual Property).”
“I am now working in AMP’s Compliance and Technical Services Department – yes, I am finally a CAT! Destined to work here! It is in line with my ongoing (and seemingly never ending) Superannuation studies, so at least I have that practical tie up now. It’s all legislation & analysis of what AMP is/should be doing.”
“After Ruse, went straight into Medical School at Sydney Uni. Had a great time and managed to get through. Got married to Nicole (an accountant) at the end of Uni, and we currently live at Glenwood. Currently working towards a career speciality of Trauma Surgery + Retrieval / Intensive. I currently work at Westmead Hospital, but have been shifted around from Auburn to Orange and Darwin.”
“Just about to submit my PhD thesis (about time!). No idea what comes after that. Science looks like a particularly uninviting career but I’m not sure my current alternatives are any better.
Still living in Campsie with Sharyn (my gorgeous wife ) and Madeleine (my gorgeous 18 months old daughter)”
Carla Walton (and Vanessa Ward)
“I’m currently completing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Wollongong. I have lived in Wollongong for 2 years now and my flat is a 5 minute walk from the beach, which somehow makes the whole study thing not quite so bad.
Vanessa is teaching high school in a small rural village in Malawi, Africa. There are only a handful of other women in the village since the school she teaches at is run by a Catholic brother and is a Catholic boys high school. Recently, most of the boys at her school destroyed the high school in another village after provocation by the neighbouring school’s football team. Hence, all but 20 of the students have been suspended or expelled.”
“I’m living in Melbourne and working for the Victorian state government. I’m with Land Victoria who are the agency responsible for crown land, the titles office and mapping stuff. It’s all good. I’ve just had my second wedding anniversary (married Catherine in August ’99) – no kids or pets yet.
I am still in touch with Andrew Powell – he is living in Brisbane again and is working for the Premiers department in the Queensland Public Service. He and wife Taryn just had their first child – Daniel was born in April this year.”
“Seemingly immediately upon completion of HSC, I started Medicine at Sydney. This went on for 6 years .. I’m happy with my choice now but I don’t think I’d do it again. During those tedious hours at Sydney Uni and Concord then Canberra Hospitals, I met Damian Smith. We were married in a lovely little Church in Sutton Forest April 2000 and are living in Canberra now, with plans to move back to Sydney 2002.
I am in my second year of the Psychiatry program, and I actually do think I’m in a privileged position in talking with people.”
“In August last year, I rather grudgingly gave up living in the Blue Mountains – and not very grudgingly gave up working at Nepean Hospital as a medical researcher – to move back to Sydney. This was the result of taking up a position with the NSW Police Service as an intelligence analyst, which has been both a major challenge and a major culture shock. (You lot could have helped by being a bit less intellectual and left-wing early on…!) I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to kill you! Do enjoy it though, and hope to start a Masters in this area next year.
Still into photography, it has taken me to some of the best and worst places imaginable during the last couple of years. I still amuse (frighten?) new friends and colleagues by spontaneously repeating things inadvertently collected at Ruse – “To put the lathe in back gear, take the pin out of the bull wheel and engaaaage the back gear lev-rrr!”
As warmer weather finally arrives here in Russia (mid teens at best!) a new challenge has arrived on site. It turns out that Sakhalin Island is the home to some of the biggest bears in Russia! Apparently they weigh in at about 400kg, which I guess is big for a bear? I must have missed the class on bears in high school, but 400 sounds like a lot.
So after a long, long winter the bears have awoken, and strangely enough they are as hungry as hell.
The site has two rivers that run along its boundaries and last summer they were a source of many a meal for me on site. One of the Russian geologists would get up early and go fishing for salmon. We would have salmon caviar for breakfast and salmon steaks for lunch and I get the feeling that the bears were on a similar diet.
Now that construction works have begun the rivers are now full of silt and dirt and not one salmon has been seen swimming up the river. Apart from the obvious environment damage this has caused to the rivers the second problem is that the bears have nothing to eat! When we brought this up with the contractors who were responsible for silting up the river, they informed us that the bears could also eat berries so it shouldn’t be a problem! 400kg bear…a lot of punnets of raspberries in my books, but OK berries it is.
Then three kids from a nearby village were out playing in the woods, and to cut a gruesome story short, two made it, one didn’t. So now we have human hunting hungry bears roaming around the area. Solution..our environmental department has hired a hunter! For me this is the first time I have worked in an environmental department which hires someone to kill fauna as opposed to protecting it. The hunter is a real dude as well, about 5 feet tall and broad, long beard and old army issue camouflages and instead of a civilised tranquiliser rifle he wields a sawn-off shotgun!
Next problem, one hunter, 250 employees on site! Solution, issue people with a whistle to scare the bear away if it attacks you. As I mentioned I missed the class on bears, but a whistle! 6 months of winter, no food, wake up, no fish, a punnet of berries, a juicy human blowing a whistle… when you explain to the locals why you have the whistle they give you this look like, ‘this is what happens when you get Coke, MTV and Burger King!”
My favourite is one of the expats who works in the administration department for the project. This guy leaves the hotel, walks about ten paces to get on a bus, then gets to site and walks another ten paces and he is inside the office and the same to get home, but his whistle is permanently around his neck, at the ready. The only time this guy goes outside is to go to the toilet, and whilst the Russian diet makes you feel like you are wrestling with a bear from time to time whilst on the can, I feel a whistle would do little to help.
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