Taking on the challenges

Post: Taking on the challenges

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“Your life is a result of the decisions you make. If you don’t like your life, it is time to start making better choices.”

This is just one of the quotes that resonated with Alannah Miller as she worked hard to overcome challenges during her final years of school.

The Muswellbrook Girls Academy graduate said she first started to think about her future at the start of Year 10. “During this year, I lost my dad which really affected my focus. However, the support from Girls Academy really helped me gain strength to keep moving forward,” she said.

“I like setting goals and when it comes to achieving goals, I try to always have a plan A and B. By sharing my goals with Girls Academy, they offered me a lot of support and guidance, which made achievement that little bit easier.”

Alannah decided to combine her HSC studies with a school-based traineeship in health services assistance (acute care) through TAFE.

“I worked part time with Hunter New England Health and attended TAFE once a week in Maitland,” she said. “This opportunity upon completion enabled me to reach the first stepping stone of my career goal, an assistant in nursing. Due to missing some days at school, keeping up with the workload (especially in Year 12) was quite difficult sometimes. However, I learnt to adjust and prioritise, which made things easier.”

She made some simple but effective changes, such as swapping football for the gym, because it enabled her to stay active without taking too much time away from school.

“I spent time in the Girls Academy room and senior prep room during study periods and lunch time to catch up on missed work and to complete assessments on time, which meant when I was at home I had less work to do and could still maintain a social life with friends and family.”

Alannah believes the end result was worth all the adjustments she made in her every-day life. “I maintained the standard when it came to my grades and I was also able to work in an area that I am passionate about,” she said. “I made many lifelong friends through TAFE and learnt useful life lessons for my career and personal life, which I still use to this day.”

After completing her traineeship and HSC, Alannah was successful in her application to work at Calvary Retirement Community as a care service employee.

She also applied to study nursing at university before changing her mind and switching to the Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of Newcastle (UON). This presented some new challenges, as Alannah elected to stay in Muswellbrook, while studying fulltime and working casually at Calvary.

“Traveling to and from Newcastle four days a week, studying, working and trying to maintain a social life and stay healthy got quite difficult after a few weeks,” she said. “In the little time I was at university, I realised that I couldn’t picture the end goal with the degree I had chosen and, due to the struggles that I faced, I lost motivation to continue. So I deferred from my course and reapplied for the Bachelor of Nursing in 2021.”

That decision took the pressure off and enabled her to refocus. “I have a lot more time to work, which helps me gain more experience as a nurse, and enables me to keep saving money so I can afford to move to Newcastle at the end of the year,” she said.  

Alannah also plans to transfer from Calvary in Muswellbrook so she can continue working as a nurse in Newcastle. If she’s accepted back into university, she plans on studying for some time.

“I hope to complete a post-graduate degree in midwifery and/or intensive care, which will hopefully lead me to a path full of opportunities,” she said. “My biggest life goal is to one day work for the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctors Service).“

NSW Tamworth post school transitions officer Elizabeth Howard said she was very proud of the tremendous growth Alannah has had on her Girls Academy journey.

“At the time I was program manager at Muswellbrook Girls Academy and got to walk alongside her — to experience such fantastic things like going to Japan on the Idemitsu trip, to day-to-day things in the Academy, to attending the Year 12 summit in Sydney,” she said. “I am really proud of the determination Alannah has and I am excited to continue on this journey with her now in the post school transition space.”

Alannah is very grateful for the support she received from mentors like Elizabeth at Girls Academy. “They really helped me stay focused throughout my senior years at high school and they taught me some very valuable life lessons,” she said. “They offered me a quiet place to sit and study, advice and opinions on bettering my assessments, and support with my mental health.”

She said she was given many opportunities, which made school life more enjoyable. “I have many memories involving the Girls Academy that I’ll never forget; I have made heaps of  friends along the way and I have acquired skills that I can keep with me for the rest of my life.”

The determined young woman has some great advice for other students following in her footsteps. “There’s always going to be challenges in life, especially in high school and beyond. But how you choose to face the challenges shows others the type of person you are.”

And the students would do well to draw on another quote that Alannah has returned to time and again. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

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