Pia Varsamis – Class of 2011
Pia Varsamis commenced schooling at Oakleigh Grammar in prep in 1999. She graduated in 2011, and was School Captain. She is currently completing her PhD in Metabolic & Vascular Physiology. Completing an undergraduate sports science degree and further completing her honours degree enabled her to decide clinical based physiology and research was the path for her.
Fondest memory: Oakleigh Grammar provided me with many great memories throughout my 13 years of schooling. From the first day of prep with Ms Papadatos (February, 1999) until the last day of Year 12 (November 2011), Oakleigh Grammar was my second home. In saying this, my fondest memory was being college captain. I had the pleasure of representing the college at various functions such as Greek Independence Day (25th March) and His Grace Bishop Iakovos of Militoupolis ordination (2011) in Sydney.
Hobbies: I enjoy long distance running and when I get the chance I love to bake (in particular all things healthy and nutritious).
Field of interest: I am currently completing my PhD in Metabolic & Vascular Physiology. Having completed an undergraduate sports science degree and further completing my honours degree this enabled me to decide clinical based physiology and research was the path for me.
Motivation: Since we live in a society where unhealthy lifestyle factors induce premature cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes it came to my attention that we need to explore solutions to combat these types of diseases- whether it being through physical activity interventions, modification in diets or changes in lifestyle, something more has to be done.
Family: I am the middle child in my family and I am lucky enough to have two sisters (2 years older and 2 years younger than me) who are also alumni of Oakleigh Grammar. Throughout 13 years of my school life I knew if I needed something or vice versa we’d support each other. I am also lucky enough to have great parents who inspire and motivate me to work hard, and achieve whatever I set my mind on.
A day in the life…
A typical day would involve an early morning start at work and a late night training session. During the week I am usually at work by 7.30am and depending on what is scheduled for the day (i.e. Clinical testing, tutoring, thesis writing, and responding to a thousand emails), I like to come home and train. My afternoon training session is important to me as I consider it my time to unwind and plan ahead.
I understand you are currently a PhD candidate in the area of Metabolic & Vascular Physiology – what drew you to this?
Yes, I am currently completing my PhD in Metabolic & Vascular Physiology. Having completed an undergraduate sports science degree and further completing my honours degree this enabled me to decide clinical based physiology and research was the path for me. Why? Since we live in a society where unhealthy lifestyle factors induce premature cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes it came to my attention that we need to explore solutions to combat these types of diseases- whether it being through physical activity interventions, modification in diets or changes in lifestyle, something more has to be done.
Did you always know you’d go down that path?
No. After having completed various industry experience placements throughout my degree in elite sport as well as fitness testing and recruitment at the Victorian Police Academy, I initially imagined I would be drawn down the path of working in the area of human sports performance. However, I’m glad to have had the experience in this setting for a few years, which enabled me to make my final decision.
What kind of work goes into obtaining this qualification?
A lot of hard work, perseverance and motivation are qualities required into pursuing an honours qualification. As for a PhD, I’m currently living it now. I’m sure the qualities are similar, however I‘ll get back to you in 3 years!
Would you say this is your proudest accomplishment since leaving Oakleigh Grammar?
Yes. Being accepted to complete my PhD at a young age is one of my proudest achievements since leaving Oakleigh Grammar.
What do you want to achieve with this qualification – what job are you aspiring to obtain and what kind of work are you aiming to undertake?
Ideally, I would like a research career with an academic twist. I’d like to be able to coordinate and conduct clinical research as well as teach university students the practical skills needed in a clinical laboratory when dealing with patients.
You recently attended the school and spoke to our Year 12s – why do you think it’s important that alumni maintain ties to the school and offer this kind of support to the students?
Oakleigh Grammar gave me the opportunity to gain the core fundamental principles I needed to go and study at university. It is important to me to give back to a school that gave me so much as a student.
Any other details you’d like to add?
My best advice to students who still don’t know what they want to do would be to find something that’s enjoyable. Something that would allow you to wake up every morning with excitement and willingness to go and do it. Love what you do and you will do it no matter what. Push yourself towards your boundaries and never give up.
Why do you think it is important to be an active part of OGAA (Oakleigh Grammar Alumni Association)?
The Oakleigh Grammar Alumni Association is a great initiative. Without a doubt it provides social interaction between fellow past peers. It’s always inspiring to listen to other past students and see what they have accomplished thus far. I definitely need to make a greater effort to participate in future reunions.