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….!