Past Student Profile - Naomi Pinto
Naomi Pinto commenced as a boarder in Year 10, 2006 and completed Year 12 in 2009. Originally from Regional New South Wales and now studying Medicine at the University of Newcastle, Naomi shares with us some of her highlights as a boarder at St Catherine's.
Do you have any advice for girls who may be commencing as a new boarder?
Firstly, do it. I spent a couple of years trying to decide whether or not I wanted to board and I wish I had made my mind up earlier and just taken the plunge. I think the best advice I can give to new boarders is just to enjoy being in the boarding house. Take part in boarding activities because that’s where you get the chance to meet everyone in a relaxed and fun setting. Don’t be too worried if you don’t instantly love it, it took me quite a while to feel comfortable. I didn’t love my first few months at Illawarra, but by the end of Year 12 it was definitely home to me. The girls who you board with will become some of your best friends in the world, so don't be afraid that you'll get to the boarding house and not make any friends - thats not possible.
How did you find settling into the boarding house and city life when you moved from Regional NSW?
It was really easy to adjust to city life. Whenever you start boarding, there will always be someone who’s been there for longer. The girls who know all the ins and outs of St Catherine’s and Melbourne are always willing to help out. Whether it’s helping you buy a tram ticket or explaining the weekend arrangement forms. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by being so far from home, the boarding staff (Junior and Senior Mistresses) are usually the ones you can count on. In the boarding house, they’re more like your friends, and you can always turn to them for help.
At School you were a National level cyclist, how did you balance your study and cycling commitments?
While I was at school I was representing Victoria in track cycling and training up to 24 hours a week. It was a bit tricky trying to juggle school, sport and social activities. I found it most difficult in Year 12, but it just meant that you had to take every opportunity to do homework/study: use free periods, lunchtime and the couple of hours straight after school before prep. It’s really great being a boarder because some of the teachers come and spend prep time in the boarding house. I found it incredibly helpful to have Math teachers on hand during study time, so if you had a problem, you didn’t waste time with it because help was readily available. The only thing I can think of is good organisation - keep everything neat so you always know where to find your notes and text books. If you’re ever having trouble with school work you can pretty much count on one of the other girls in your year, or even the year above to help out.
Life after St Catherine's: How are you settling into your tertiary studies?
After I graduated from St Catherine’s in 2009 I took a year off and travelled with family, friends and also alone. I worked as an au pair in Italy for a couple of months and met up with a few girls in Europe who had also been boarders at St Catherine’s. I had deferred Uni in 2010, so in 2011 I started a Bachelor of Medicine at the University of Newcastle in NSW. I’m now in my second year and really enjoying it. I still miss the boarding house and always think of the few years I had there as the best of my life so far.
Describe a typical weekend in the boarding house?
For me, a typical weekend in the boarding house wasn’t spent in the boarding house at all. I would leave for training before most people were awake on a Saturday and return just after dinner. We usually watched a movie or played board games until bed. Sundays were much of the same; I’d leave for training before anyone was awake and often return while everyone was still asleep. Sundays were usually quiet and always nice and relaxed in the boarding house; most people would usually stay in their pjs late and just have fun together. The foyer was always abuzz on Sunday nights when everyone was returning and catching one another up on their weekends. On the rare weekends I got to spend in the boarding house, I always had a lot of fun. We’d often go the Chapel Street or the city to shop or see a movie.