Sport is a key aspect of school life for many students, and this was particularly true for our Alumni Ann-Marie. There’s no doubt that her involvement in various sporting teams as well as the number of sport-related injuries she had along the way, influenced her choice of pursuing a career in physiotherapy. Ann-Marie has kindly offered to share her experience at Oakleigh Grammar, from making life-long friends, competing in the EISM, and how being a student at Oakleigh Grammar has helped shape her into the person she is today.
Can you briefly tell us your fondest memory of Oakleigh Grammar?
Some of my fondest memories at Oakleigh Grammar revolved around EISM (interschool sport), specifically basketball, soccer, swimming, and cross country. I remember countless early morning, lunchtime, and afternoon training sessions spent with an amazing bunch of girls and of course committed PE teachers.
Do you keep in touch with other Alumni from Oakleigh Grammar?
I was fortunate enough to be part of a year level, whereby a group of girls developed a really close bond. Looking back, I think that sport really facilitated this relationship. Until recently, we have continued playing basketball together at the same stadium and with the same school name ‘Cosmain Cats’ which highlights our Partron Saints Cosmas and Damian. We have only recently had to take a break due to weddings and babies, resulting in us unable to field a team. However, we have pledged to return to the court ASAP! Whilst we are taking a break from basketball, we still find the time to touch base with each other, whether that be chatting over the phone, via text, over dinner or coffee, or more recently in these COVID-19 times via zoom!
What have you been up to since graduating from Oakleigh Grammar?
It seems like a lifetime has gone by since graduating from Oakleigh Grammar. Reflecting on the time since then, makes you realise life can really be quite a journey. To keep it brief, after year 12, I narrowly missed out (by 1%) to study Physiotherapy. Whilst shattering at the time, I learnt a lot from the experience. Subsequently, I completed a year of Bachelor of Occupational Therapy and Psychological Science at Latrobe University. Upon completion of that year, I applied for a transfer into Physio. Let’s just say hard work and a bit of faith really does pay off and I was successful. 5 years later, I started a graduate role at Cabrini Hospital and worked at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre over the weekend as a Physiotherapist. I have since worked across a range of public hospitals in Melbourne. Other than work, I continue to enjoy my sports and keeping fit. I have completed 2 x half marathons and a couple of Tough Mudder events. Fortunately, I have also been able to witness my beloved Richmond Tigers win 2 x AFL premierships. I also believe that it is important to keep yourself healthy mentally and spiritually, thus I try assist in local community and church events where possible.
What is your current role? What is a regular day like?
Currently, I am working as a Physiotherapist within the complex care team at Austin Health in Heidelberg. My role is to provide rapid Physiotherapy assessment and short-term management to patients with complex needs, who have recently been discharged from hospital or are at risk of presenting to hospital. Most of the patients have multiple medical and social problems, making them quite vulnerable. The team I work with include: doctors, nurses, social workers, and other allied health professionals. A lot of my work in the past has been based in hospitals, whereas this particular role, requires visiting people in their own homes. It can be quite different to see people in their own environment and makes you appreciate the various challenges that they may face. No day or person is ever the same, keeping the job busy and stimulating.
What drew you to this particular industry?
I have always been passionate about health and the human body. I remember as a younger person I was fascinated by Emergency departments, possibly because my grandparents lived close to the Alfred, and the TV shows ER and All Saints were my mum’s must “not-miss” weekly TV series! Also, loving and playing lots of sports resulted in injuries, and I remember specifically after dislocating my knee multiple times in high school I developed a good rapport with my Physio. I was so inspired that it made me want to do something in health. It was either Paramedicine or Physio…I chose Physio.
What advice do you have for anyone who would like to enter a similar work role to you?
Ultimately, I think it is important not to give up and continue to strive to achieve your best. The health industry can be competitive; however, persistence pays off. I also think you need to make sure you really understand what the essence of the position or profession is. Physiotherapy can look like quite a glamorous job, particularly in the sporting field, however, that is only one facet of a profession that is so diverse.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments (both personally and professionally) since leaving Oakleigh Grammar?
Personally, my great accomplishment is probably finding and marrying my best friend Peter and moving into our home together last year. Professionally, graduating from Physiotherapy and working across a range of health settings, to now working within an area I find meaningful.
What is something you wish you could say to your younger self?
I wish I could tell myself to embrace vulnerability, as despite how insecure it can make us feel, when we embrace it, it unlocks something powerful that makes us grow. An element of stress can be important in achieving goals. However, it is important to remember to breath and soak up the moments and try to be present in all interactions.
Do you have any last thoughts about your experience as a student at Oakleigh Grammar and how it has influenced your life after graduating?
I feel I am one of the lucky one’s to say that I really enjoyed my high school years. I developed life long, honest friendships, and developed foundations that enabled me to be able to study and hopefully contribute positively to our society. During my time, I felt morals and values were engrained, which continue to help me navigate through various life situations and interactions. With the unwavering support of staff, I developed a stronger sense of self which continues to grow and change. I cannot thank OG enough for my time there. They have definitely helped mould the person I am today. Thankyou!