Past Student Profile
Charlotte Brock commenced as a boarder at St Catherine's in Year 9, 2008 and completed Year 12 in 2011. Originally from Regional Victoria and now studying in Melbourne, Charlotte shares with us some of her highlights as a boarder at St Catherine's.
Do you have advice for girls who may be commencing as a new boarder?
It is so important that you come into boarding with an open mind. Living in a boarding house is very different to living at home, and sometimes this change can be perceived as unpleasant or uncomfortable. I will guarantee you that boarding is as good as you make it - if you don’t actively try to grasp all the opportunities that surround you, and make the best of your situation from the very beginning, it may not be the most pleasant experience. Moving to a new place, away from your friends and family gives you an entirely different outlook on life, and this forces you to become a lot more independent. This is a good thing! Consider it a privilege that you are getting an experience that will equip you with the necessary life skills you will use in years to come: washing your own clothes, learning to get along with new people, self-organisation and discipline, as well as public transport becoming your new best friend.
Describe a typical evening in the boarding house.
I look back very fondly upon my younger years in Illawarra – most of our time was spent laughing and having fun before the strains of VCE kicked in. Through Years 9 and 10 I made a habit of coming back after school and sitting on the couches with other boarders and debriefing on our day, before going on a walk or going to the gym with friends. Many girls at St Catherine’s get very involved with sport, so this usually filled up our afternoons. Dinner is at 6.00pm and ‘Prep’ or study time, is at 6:45pm until about 8.00pm. After that, you can do as you wish – most of us would use this time to do our washing, call friends and family, or just muck around. I would strongly suggest to simply enjoy this time because when you get into the older years, study becomes your primary focus.
Did you participate in co-curricular activities and if so what were some of your highlights?
Many. At the end of Year 12 I was awarded House, Debating, Service, Music and Public Speaking colours, as these were the co-curricular areas I was most heavily involved with. Having said that, I have also participated in St Catherine’s drama productions, Tennis, Soccer, Snowsports and Athletics. Strangely enough, hiking is one of my favourite hobbies and St Catherine’s offered many camps and trips that accommodated this – so I guess I was quite involved with that also. I am really passionate about current affairs and so have participated in many conferences and my biggest highlight in co-curricular activities would probably have been The National Schools’ Constitutional Conference in 2011 where, after having been selected from a state final, was flown up to Canberra with another St Catherine’s finalist, Tonya Bernardo, where we debated with 120 students from around Australia about the direction of the Australian constitution. This was an incredible experience as it gave us the chance to meet high-achieving young Australians and several high-profile lawyers and politicians from around the nation. Simply saying ‘yes’ to the many opportunities that St Catherine’s has to offer will give you unparalleled skills and experiences that you will undoubtedly utilise and enjoy for many years to come.
In year 12 you were Magazine Captain – could you describe how this leadership position was for you in your VCE year?
I was in a very fortunate position to have been given such an opportunity – it really consolidated my love for writing, organisation and, of course, magazines. Last year, I was Editor of the annual School Magazine as well as initiating a ‘Valedictory’ Magazine – something that was very well received by my peers which I hope will continue in years to come. While this captaincy was quite stressful at times, I think being a boarder for so many years gave me a very strong sense of discipline, work ethic and time management; so these, combined with a very strong and supportive network of friends and staff, allowed me to balance the projects with my studies successfully. To be surrounded by the Marketing and Development staff at St Catherine’s whilst working on both magazines was an invaluable experience in itself, as they helped to enrich my practical skills as well as giving me inside tips on how I should go about pursuing my career aspirations. Being Magazine Captain was probably the best thing I’ve ever done at St Catherine’s as I got to know the girls, staff and whole School Community a lot better whilst also working in an area I feel truly passionate about. Since finishing school, I am now interning as a fashion journalist, so I really urge any girls that are even slightly interested in the industry to try and get involved with St Catherine’s School’s publications, as the practical skills and experiences that you acquire may really ignite your love for the industry as it did mine.
Life after St Catherine’s: How are you settling into university and college?
I am currently a resident at Ormond College studying Arts at The University of Melbourne. Melbourne Uni is great because it gives you the freedom and flexibility to study whatever you want to – whether it’s African Drum and Dance or Sexual and Gender Politics. I think what I love the most about the uni lifestyle is the fact that the onus is on you to do well – everyone is in the same boat and as cliché as it is, if you snooze, you really will lose! After all, at uni you are simply a number, and that means that no one cares whether you show up to your classes or not – you’ll just get failed! As for Ormond, it really is the most amazing community. I’ve met extremely talented, intelligent and driven people from all over the world, who have a genuine commitment and love for what they do, as well as a real sense of purpose as to why they are here, at this college, and at this university. Wearing academic gowns to dinner, (in a dining hall which is almost identical to Hogwarts!) while participating in ethical debates with university professors has become almost normal in my standing 11 weeks at Ormond College…. last week we had dinner with a past resident of Ormond, Chris Johnson, the CEO of investment banking firm Goldman Sachs. I really do feel so lucky to be standing where I am right now and credit St Catherine’s for their many academic and co-curricular activities which helped me get here.
This means that at school, it really is important to develop an appreciation for balance and self-discipline, as it will hold you in good stead for later in life.