Our next gen leaders won’t just consist of university leavers or young entrepreneurs – they’ll also be made up of high-school students who are ready and rearing to go now. This collection of talented Townsville students proves that an insatiable desire to learn and move forward, combined with the right mix of teachers and support can make for a potent recipe. Here’s the proof.
Andrea McKeough, 16, has been a student of The Cathedral School for two years, and as she prepares for the incredible opportunities that await, she credits the school for developing a solid work ethic for her future career pathways.
“Cathedral goes above and beyond when it comes to gearing their students towards success,” beams Andrea who is excitedly preparing for her graduation. “I came to the school with high aspirations for pursuing either Medicine or Law, but through work experience and other opportunities such as the Careers Expo and the JCU Experience Day, I’ve shifted my focus to options I know would be more enjoyable for me rather than options that were more prestigious. Chemistry and Biology interest me and Cathedral has also kept me attached to my interest in visual art and computer work.”
Multiple award winner Andrea has excelled during her time at Cathedral, winning both the 2016 and 2017 Distinctive Academic Achievement award. However, it’s the people that helped shape her into the young woman she is today that she is most grateful for. “What I’ve enjoyed most is the students and teachers I’ve been able to connect with in the brief two years I’ve spent at Cathedral. They have encouraged me to work hard and grow and achieve higher than I ever would have without their influence.”
Coming from a small town in the Northern Territory where she shared a classroom with three other people, a shift to the Cathedral environment was quite a culture shock for Andrea. “With a cohort around 35 times bigger than what I was used to, it took me a little time to break out of my shell, but I’ve grown to adore the wonderful, talented, hilarious friends I’ve made in my senior years.”
Following a short, well-earned break in the Whitsundays to celebrate ‘Schoolie’s Week’, Andrea will embark on a gap year to work and build a solid foundation for herself. While the temptation of universities from far and wide offer excitement, she is incredibly enticed by the possibilities here in Townsville.
“From what I’ve seen, the Townsville business community is excellent. Even though I’ve only lived here for two years, it’s abundantly clear that everyone is highly professional, incredibly driven, intelligent and compassionate. Who wouldn’t be enticed to become a part of that?
“The opportunities that local businesses lend to school leavers are generous and extensive. This also speaks volumes about how they view graduates as valuable members of community. It’s reassuring to know these businesses are willing to train you from the ground up to become a skilled worker, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.”
At just 16 years of age, Kirwan High graduate Kayla Singleton’s hard work and determination has not only seen her achieve some remarkable things during her education, but set her up for a promising future.
Top of her class in Year 11 and 12 and award recipient of the Peter Doherty Award for Outstanding Senior STEM Students and the prestigious John Livingston 110% Award, Kayla has set the bar very high.
It’s not only her academic achievements that have set Kayla in good stead for her continued development, but her charitable nature which has seen her volunteer at both the Townsville Hospital and James Cook University.
“I have participated in a school holiday volunteering program at the Townsville Hospital, and when possible, I spend time helping out at the Heart, Trauma and Sepsis Laboratory at James Cook University.”
In addition to her volunteer work at JCU, Kayla has also completed an extension mathematics course through the University, receiving a High Distinction. Add to this a three week internship at the Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, Germany, and it’s easy to see Kayla’s passion for science has already taken her places.
“I’m hoping to complete a Bachelor of Biomedicine followed by a Doctor of Medicine in Melbourne, or a Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine at Griffith,” says Kayla.
And while her studies may take her from Townsville in the short term, Kayla says, “I absolutely believe there are opportunities in Townsville for school leavers. Townsville is rapidly growing in terms of both economy and as a city. There are many options for school leavers, both job and study-wise. I’ve spent most of my life in Townsville, so I definitely plan to return after finishing my studies. I would also like to offer specialist services in rural areas, and believe Townsville will give me the opportunity to do that.”
Many leaders would argue that a key attribute for our next generation of innovators is often their ability to engage with the community and give of themselves to improve others lives. Jack Cobon, 18, of Ignatius Park College, is a shining example of this.
He is a regular visitor to the Townsville Community Learning Centre for children with special needs, on the board for the inaugural Townsville Sony Foundation Children’s Holiday Camp, assistant at the Challenge Games, fundraiser for the equity gap of our Indigenous Australians, school Blood Bank ambassador, member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Youth Conference and Twin Cities Leo’s Club and, believe it or not, that is just to name a few.
Jack insists that his generous and kind nature is partly a result of the values that Ignatius Park instills in their students. “Show kindness to everyone. Respect everyone and everything around you and hopefully, you’ll get that same respect.”
His dedication to his community has not gone unnoticed, winning the prestigious Secondary Schools Citizenship Award from the Order of Australia Association Queensland Branch, presented at Parliament House in Brisbane. His additional school accolades also include the Long Tan Leadership and Teamwork Award, Edmund Rice Service Award, Cultural Significance Award and Diligence Award.
“I enjoy the challenge of being outside my comfort zone and never missing an opportunity,” says Jack as he considers his next move. “I’m considering going to University to study Biomedical Science or Biotechnology. Who knows where that will take me. I would eventually like to work in research and help in developing countries.”
Jack sees the potential on offer in his own backyard too, explaining, “I have been tossing up all year whether to stay in Townsville or make a change and go to Brisbane and study there. JCU have some great courses, it is a great university and you get work experience while you’re there to get you ready for the workplace from what I hear. There are definitely opportunities here for school leavers. Some of my friends have already got jobs in the trade and hospitality industries here in Townsville. There are also many community service options as well, right here in Townsville.”
Want to see what other Townsville locals have gone on to create? Check out this story about a local who took his app from an idea on a storyboard in his garage to a $160 million dollar business in five years.