Four years later…
As parents, we were always proud to share the adventures and achievements Joe had experienced or earned. A mixture of events, some more evident to the world than others led to a hiatus in posting stories. Despite the lack of stories, the adventures and achievements didn’t stop. While I won’t cover the granular details of this three-year window in-depth, it is essential to celebrate and acknowledge some of the events that have transpired.
During the final year of high school which was pre-pandemic, Joe’s Grandad – my father, died. While a sad event, we were able to be there when he passed, unlike so many in the following years of the pandemic where people couldn’t even attend a family funeral.
At the same time, during Easter 2019, Joe and his crew won a bronze medal at the national rowing championships in Sydney against the best rowing schools in the nation. He and his colleagues buckled down and worked through that last year of school, aiming for the best ATAR they could to secure the course and university they wanted.
Most of us have gone through the personal experience of exams in our final year of school. Many have children or nieces, or nephews who have done or will do the same. You will understand the pressure of that year and the agonising wait for results which arrive in January of the following year.
During the time between the last school event of the year, and that day in January when the results are released we travelled to New Zealand for a North Island adventure. Partially as a way to take a trip that Joe had missed out on during his final three years of high school and also to take Mum on a trip overseas that she hadn’t experienced in quite a number of years due to the combined health challenges of both her and Dad along with the commitment to maintaining the farm they lived on.
The trip served as a welcome distraction from the impending exam results and a great break in a beautiful location. We didn’t know what was taking place in Wuhan prior to that which would lead to the world’s deadliest pandemic in over 100 years.
I am selfishly so grateful that Joe, as both School Captain and Captain of Boats of Melbourne High School in 2019 was able to lead, participate and enjoy the physical versions of everything from rowing regattas around the state and nationally, participating in large orchestra ensembles including winning the coveted school orchestra award at the Royal South Street competition for the first time in its 130 year history. He was able to stand and deliver speeches in the convention centre, recite poems at the shrine of remembrance and hang out with his mates without the need for masks and social distancing. In many cases, as parents, we were also there to witness these achievements and celebrations.
It was only in late 2021 that the Melbourne High boats really made their way back into the water and a sense of normality returned to class delivery.
Back to the ATAR which is the magic score delivered to a student after the completion of their last year of high school, typically grade 12 in Australia. With the same nervousness we shared when Joe opened the letter announcing he had been accepted to Melbourne High School, we waited anxiously as he logged onto the results website.
Given that he had been a little pessimistic about how some of his exams had gone, plus the additional burden of extensive training for the state and national rowing competition along with the responsibility of being the School Captain, he was not expecting a great score. Without divulging the exact number, I can share that it was greater than 99.5.
Fast forward to starting at the university of choice. He wanted to study law and added commerce to create a double degree. Melbourne University, top for law in Australia and 2nd overall in university rankings was his choice. Being a short 3.5km journey from our house, geographically it was also a good choice. Of course with the pandemic and classes delivered online for 2020 and 2021, this was, no pun intended, an academic point.
Finally, this year tutorials returned to face-to-face although lectures are still delivered online.
Unlike in my time at the same university where I was working full time and chipping through my degree on a part-time basis, Joe has embraced the university environment, despite its largely virtual nature, joining a number of clubs centred around self-development, opportunity creation, teamwork, leadership and learning. Joe discovered as do many students, that they are among kindred souls in these clubs. This became evident during the many weekends spent on case competitions where consulting challenges were laid down, then team members developed strategies, plans and solutions as they would be in a commercial environment.
There was a period when these case competitions first started where Joe bemoaned the fact that the teams he was a part of came 2nd. Yet he and his team members persevered and now they are taking out first place in coveted international competitions. To achieve that you need to be able to work with your team, support your team demonstrate resilience, and persistence, plus have an abundance of those 2 favourite words of mine, aspiration and inspiration.
It has been really pleasing to see that with the lifting of Covid restrictions that Joe and his friends have been able to enjoy going to parties, attending university balls or simply catching a movie or going to a restaurant.
With memories of lockdown still quite raw, it was heartwarming to hear that he was catching up with his old rowing mates as one of them embarks upon his adventure heading off to England. Additionally, he flew to Adelaide to catch up with school friends from his Darwin time at the Essington School.
During the last 3 years, Joe has managed to develop an impressive resume of work experience. This has included coaching rowers at Melbourne high school and tutoring English up to year 12 level which he concluded after two years while at the same time taking on a consulting role he performed with a startup company. Additionally, he was fortunate enough to secure a great internship opportunity with Guildfords where through the mentorship of the managing director he developed invaluable experience in the field of financial compliance.
In mid-2022, Joe started a one-year internship with NAB. This has just concluded and he is currently in Singapore with a new cohort of colleagues and friends who are recipients of the Westpac Scholarship Grant. This grant scholarship will assist Joe as he completes a semester of study at the National Taiwan University. This experience of living independently in Taiwan for more than six months will change him in ways that anyone who has experienced that kind of experience knows. The Singapore Westpac experience is filled with meetings and gatherings that foster relationships that will last long after these young leaders leave the Lion City.
While Joe never spoke in detail of his role at NAB, he shared that it was a workplace where he was able to use his initiative, learn and implement new skills and worked in an atmosphere of positive workplace culture where he felt he was making a difference. This was while maintaining a work-life integration permitting him to continue studies, be involved in sport and have friends beyond the workplace. I applaud that because even today there are many instances where interns or young graduates joining companies are treated like naive cannon fodder or given tasks that don’t develop their skillset.
Joe has also completed a full marathon, half marathon and has both car and motorbike licenses and is the proud owner of a rather sleek-looking motorbike featured in his banner for this website.
With the commerce degree completed and the diploma in Chinese language in its final stages, law beckons next year unless another interesting adventure or challenge finds its way into his life.
These accumulated experiences on top of his university study do not define the career direction he is heading in but rather is establishing a solid professional foundation from which he can take any path he chooses.
Joe is not alone in trying to make the most of the opportunities presented to him. His university cohort and the people he works with are of the same calibre. They may belong to a study cohort or be considered work colleagues however, they seem to work together well as friends looking out for each other and celebrating the success of every achievement.
Of course, occasionally there might be an issue but when I see the compassion Joe demonstrates when a colleague, a comrade is having a difficult time I don’t see the Wolf of Wall Street or “success at any cost”, I see someone who wants everyone to succeed. And that just might be his best achievement and the one we are most proud of.
Now “empty nesters”, we are ensuring that our own adventures continue, albeit on a steadier trajectory than Joe’s. You can read about those mainly travel adventures here and flying adventures here. If you are interested in some of the IT STEM tools, thinking and philosophies we hold dear and share with teachers, students and parents – take a look at our Learnshifting site.
I have only included a few photos in this post as those who know Joe will be more inclined to search for his Instagram posts. This site is a parent’s digital reflection site for a busy son on the move with a lot to achieve.