Role Models and Support Networks

Our strong network of Old Girls provide enduring support, advice and aspiration for our students

This year, we have seen great engagement and connection with the School by our students, teachers, parents and Old Girls; all willingly involved in many aspects of School life. This is something quite unique and special about the St Catherine’s community. And whilst our students wholeheartedly invest in an extensive range of academic pursuits and co-curricular activities, the girls are always particularly intrigued and interested in the journey of a St Catherine’s Old Girl. This year, I have witnessed many students inspired by the engagement, interaction and connection of our Old Girls.

The Official Opening and Naming of the Senior School Renewal in May provided an opportunity to honour St Catherine’s Old Girl, Rhodes Scholar and celebrated author and poet, Dr Lisa Gorton (’89), who was invited to unveil the three plaques and cut a (very large) blue ribbon to officially open the buildings. Dr Gorton’s eloquent words drew inspiration from each student, many comparing her Opening Address to listening to poetry.


The introduction of the SCOGA Networking events has successfully embraced the extensive resources made available through our Old Girls network. There is, undoubtedly, value in maintaining the connection for current pupils with past scholars of St Catherine’s. Our Old Girls serve as inspirational role models and provide an immediate network of support, a source of career guidance and the reality of what can be achieved by a St Catherine’s girl. Our current Senior students, who attended each SCOGA Networking event, were firstly thrilled to be invited but also, equally engaged in the need and aspiration of women that can accompany them on their career journey.

Recent research released by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research illustrates that despite dramatic changes in the educational and labour market outcomes for women over the past fifty years, a significant gender pay gap still exists and employment opportunities for university graduates are not always immediate. This gives rise to the greater need for women to exist within a network that will look out for the St Catherine’s girl and provide employment opportunity through opening a door to a possible interview, direction for study, career advice or a tap on the shoulder to encourage a job application. I wish to personally congratulate President, Phoebe Norman (Olsen ’95), for spearheading this development for SCOGA in 2015 with such energy, commitment and enthusiasm.

As a School, we were extremely proud of St Catherine’s Old Girl, the Honourable Linda Dessau AM (’69), who was officially sworn in as the first female Governor of Victoria. I was encouraged by her promise to be a Governor for the 21st Century, and to reach out to younger people. Ms Dessau stated in her Address at the ceremony that she believes the criticism of Generation Y and Z is not justified, stating they are skilled and clever. Ms Dessau’s optimism, poise and integrity reflects that of a true St Catherine’s girl and I believe the people of Victoria will enjoy her superb intellect and wit, just as we did at the inaugural Women in Law Networking event in Term 1. During her work experience at Government House, Year 10 student Gretel Newton-Brown, had the opportunity to attend the inauguration of Ms Dessau commenting, “It was amazing to see an Old St Catherine’s Girl take on such an honourable role and I found it to be highly inspiring to watch the outcome of hard work.”

St Catherine’s Old Girls remain entwined within the fabric of our School each week. Some examples include:

•Rowena Martinich (’97), our Artist-in-Residence this Term enjoyed working with students at all year levels, and opening the Senior Art Show with an excellent speech elaborating on her extensive career in the industry. Her work, in partnership with the girls, remains on the windows of the Mary Davis Centre.

•Champion Open Water Swimmer, Old Girl, Naantali Marshall (’92) was Guest Seaker at our annual Celebration of Sports Breakfast and a number of Old Girls are currently employed as Coaching Assistants in the Sports program, providing ncouragement and spirit to compete in the St Catherine’s lue uniform. Natasha Hscock (’12), Ainsley Raggatt (’12), Charlotte Young (’13) and Kate Steven (’13) along with Emily Hamilton (’09), Madeleine Shackell (’08), Ellie Grammelsberger(’10), Charlotte Wyles (’11), Alexandra Kent (’14), Matilda Schoeffel (’10), Jade Sheary (’13), Bridget Boehm (’12), Alexandra Meadows (’14), Daisy Ballantyne (’14), Olivia Cody (’14), Tess Price (’14), Anna Shackell (’13) and Nakita Wilson (’13).

•Our Debating program was strengthened with the expertise of three Old Girls who assisted with coaching – Georgina Steggall (’09), Serena Seyfort (’13) and Zoë Allatson (’13)

•Saskia Holloway (’13) spoke to the Year 10 cohort in her capacity as 2013 St Catherine’s School Dux. She spoke briefly about her journey as a student who had arrived in Year 10 and had initially found it difficult to adjust, however through sheer determination to make the most of the amazing opportunities that the School offered, she persevered and certainly succeeded. Saskia spoke about study and balancing this work with co-curricular interests, and she encouraged the girls to become involved in the life and offerings of School.

•The Year 11 Leadership Series enabled an opportunity for Old Girls, Marina Carroll(’03), Georgia Beattie (’04) and Eliza Bellmaine (’83) to provide some insight into their roles as leaders in the School.

The Year Level Deans find the Old Girls most invaluable as their insight adds a more practical, ‘hands on’ sense of the ideas and concepts being taught. In the words of Year 10 Dean, Ms Vasiliki Spanos, “the Old Girls are individuals who have been through the ‘process’ and so kindly provide current students with advice on how to approach, in some cases, specific subjects, but also areas of study and management of lifestyle. In every instance they convey such positive attitudes about their life as it has unfolded but also their experience at School.”

Throughout the year, Old Girls Georgia Sexton (2014 St Catherine’s School Dux), Coco Garner Davis (’14), Alice Lawn (’14) and Saskia Holloway (’13) have visited the Literature classroom to discuss exam preparation for texts such as Antony and Cleopatra, The Poetry of T. S. Eliot and My Brilliant Career. Each Old Girl was only too willing to return and share their experiences, stories and study styles with the current students. Old Girls also continue to tutor and advise students across Mathematics, Languages and Philosophy.

Within the Careers Program, and under the guidance of our Careers Practitioner, Mrs Pauline van der Poel, our students continually seek the insight of Old Girls with regard to tertiary courses and graduate employment experiences. The Careers Breakfast and the recently introduced Lunch Series provided access to numerous Old Girls who were recent graduates from St Catherine’s and in their first employment role. Old Girl, Veronica Corrigan (’06) enjoyed discussing her role as a doctor with interested Year 12 students.

It was this personal and valuable information shared between our current students and Old Girls that continues to motivate and inspire long term goals and study.

During our annual Speech Night, Old Girl, Associate Professor Melinda Truesdale (’81) provided the Keynote Address and encouraged girls in the audience to ‘step forward’ and to evolve with the employment market. Melinda admitted to constantly learning in her medical field and developing the self-will and ‘can do’ attitude with the opportunities that have presented across her extensive career in medicine. These inspirational words rang true in the minds of many parents attending the evening, grateful for her advice to their daughters.

The following students were recognised this year in Awards donated by SCOGA:

Jeanie Hood Prize
Marigold Hayward (Year 12)

Langley Family Memorial Award for a Boarder
Kallioppi Frances (Year 12) and Emily Kwan (Year 12)

Sophie Borland Memorial Award for Public Speaking
Stacey Messini (Year 12)

Thora Jax Sports Memorial Award for Sporting Enthusiasm
Georgie Gleeson (Year 11)

Noel Warner Award for School Excellence
Sofiya Hay (Year 11)

Doris Winter-Irving Award for School Excellence
Ingrid Crossing (Year 10)

Mary Davis Award to the Daughter of an Old Girl for Service to the School
Georgie Gleeson (Year 11)

I wish to thank SCOGA for their continued support and interest in St Catherine’s School and their generous contributions to all activities. President, Mrs Phoebe Norman (Olsen ’95) and Committee members have capably organised the Reunions throughout the year and continue to provide a positive reconnection point for many past students. We look forward to sharing with SCOGA members the celebrations of the 120th Year of St Catherine’s in 2016.

Art Recognition

Congratulations to Art Captain, Harriet Renn along with Year 12 Sophie Ford who have both been shortlisted for Top Arts. Top Arts is an exhibition of photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media, ceramics, film and printmaking produced by VCE Art and VCE Studio Arts students, held at The Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery Victoria (NGV).

Further congratulations to Sophie Ford who has also been shortlisted for Top Designs. The successful applicants will have their design work exhibited at the Melbourne Museum. Notification for both Awards should be received in early 2016. Good luck to both Harriet and Sophie.

Thank you to the Head of Arts, Mrs Brigid Weereratne for her continued enthusiasm, support and encouragement of our Arts students. The recognition of the girls through Top Arts and Top Designs is a reflection of the strength of her leadership within our School, and the willingness of Arts staff to share their professional knowledge with our students.

Mrs Michelle Carroll

Source: Wilkins, R. & Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. (2015). The household income and labour dynamics in Australia survey: Selected findings from waves 1 to 12 [HILDA survey]. Retrieved from:

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