National Careers Week

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Amber Smith, Graduate Year: 2009

After Clonard I went into a Bachelor of Design Arts at the Australian Academy of Design, majoring in Visual Arts. After this, I travelled around SE Asia and Europe, continued to practice and exhibit my work, and was awarded a First Class Honours in Creative Arts at Deakin University.

Currently, I am the Curator of Platform Arts in Geelong, a tertiary Arts lecturer at LCI Melbourne and a PhD Candidate at Deakin University.

At Clonard, English, Literature and Arts subjects helped me to realise early on that I was interested in the intersection between art and research. This has helped me immensely in the contemporary arts sector.

Advice for Clonard students: Follow your heart. So much of your success in a career is directly tied in with your attitude and your work ethic; people will take notice of your dedication and authenticity.

Madeline Baker, Graduate Year: 2015

After Clonard I was accepted into A Bachelor Vision Science/Masters of Optometry at Deakin University.

Currently, I am studying my Masters of Optometry and planning on completing a PhD down the track, focusing on Indigenous ocular health. I have become actively involved in the leadership aspect of Optometry thanks to the many skills I developed during my time at Clonard. I was accepted into the Optometry Australia Leadership Program and currently working on developing a peer support program in the use of retinal photography within National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

Clonard provided me with the confidence and support to chase my dreams. I used to doubt myself and was hesitant to apply for optometry due to the ATAR required to get in (98.75 at the time). The staff at Clonard helped me realise my potential, my ability and supported me to reach my goals.

Advice for Clonard students: Don’t be afraid of failure; there are always different ways to reach your goals. You will succeed if you put your mind to it.

Teneille Koster, Graduate Year: 2011

After Clonard I enrolled at the Gordon to do my Certificate II in Electrotechnology (Electrical Pre-Apprenticeship) Course, upon completing this I went around to local electrical businesses in Geelong and handed in my resume and was lucky enough to be offered an Electrical Apprenticeship.

Currently, I am a qualified electrician, employed by Plan B Services as an ‘Electrical Infrastructure Auditor’. In this role, I audit all the new electrical cables and kiosks in new estates and subdivisions (Warralilly, Anchorage, The Heights, Wananda Estate, etc). I also am the owner of my own Electrical business ‘Tradette Electrical Contracting’ which I do electrical jobs in my spare time & an active board member of ‘Tradeswomen Australia’ promoting and helping ladies get into the trade industry.

At Clonard, talking to my careers advisor (Mrs. Anticev) helped me find out about what opportunities were out there for women in trades and helped me find the Certificate II in Electrotechnology Course which was the foundation of me becoming an electrician.

Advice for Clonard students: Take the leap and just do it. That goes for all industries & careers if you are truly passionate about a certain field even if it is something uncommon or you will be in the minority don’t let that scare you or stop you from doing it.

Check out Teneille in a recent news story on Channel 9 here:

Jemma Ryan, Graduate Year: 2011

After Clonard I completed a Bachelor of Media and Communications at Deakin University, majoring in journalism. While studying I secured internship opportunities with Cosmopolitan and Who magazine in Sydney and Ten News Melbourne. Before graduating I landed a full-time position at the Geelong Advertiser where I have worked since in various roles across a number of departments.

Currently, I am the magazines and lifestyle editor, overseeing the weekly gt magazine and a range of premium annual publications including GT Bride and GT Journal.

At Clonard, I was fortunate to have enthusiastic English teachers who fostered my love of storytelling early on. I made the most of my year 10 work experience by arranging a week at the Herald Sun and had one mentor encourage me to apply for the Geelong Advertiser’s Hot Shots program the same year. This involved going after school once a week for three months to hear from someone in the industry about their career journey and what their job involved. It was meant for university students but the career adviser believed I could do it and I got in. My favourite thing about Clonard is that it has an intimate feel without compromising on opportunity. I also had the privilege of being named College Captain, a leadership experience that stood me in good stead to assume management positions in the workplace from an early age.

Advice for Clonard students: It’s true what they say – it’s the time of your life and it’s gone in a flash. Relish the sense of community and support each other to be the best versions of yourselves.

The importance of women supporting women – and magic that can be achieved when we do – is a lesson for life.

Olivia McGrane, Graduate year: 2016

After Clonard I didn’t do much of what I had set out to do! I was enrolled at ACU in a Bachelor of International Studies, which I attended until census date before deciding to defer as the course was not for me. After applying early through community service work I had done. This threw me a complete curve ball as I was set on completing that course and working for an organisation such as Diversitat or even the United Nations if I was given the chance, I had some pretty big aspirations!

At the time I was working at McDonalds’s (a job I had had all through school) so I picked up more hours and became a full time manager for a bit. By the end of 2018, after doing two years working at McDonald’s and a few other places as well as still playing hockey for Geelong, I figured I had better find something that was fulfilling for me.

I reapplied for uni, this time a Bachelor of Arts at Deakin. This is also the time where I left McDonald’s and started work at Rip Curl Ozmosis in the Torquay warehouse. The job allowed me to get bucket loads of hours over the summer and a small handful of shifts through the winter which allowed me to concentrate on uni. I was enjoying the classes I was taking however, again, was feeling lost. And so at the end of last year I got into contact with Mr McKew at the new school Iona College!

Currently I am not at Deakin and now undertaking a Certificate 3 in Education Support through GForce but placed at Iona College. After one very short term, I have found I love the job and next year hope to keep working in the role as well as study online to become a teacher one day, either primary or secondary!


At Clonard I discovered a passion for helping others. Clonard had a huge influence on this as I was able to attend a couple of the trips that were offered to us over time. I attended Ampilatwatja and the Uganda trip at the end of Year 12.

Alongside this, I was heavily active in the Justice and Democracy group and whatever opportunity it had to offer I was a part of. I knew this was the field that I wanted to be a part of post- high school. I also highly recommend joining in on these opportunities because a lot of them are hard to come by outside of school!

I have learnt a lot about myself over the last couple of years and am thankful that things have fallen apart a little bit career wise. It has taught me to be more open-minded and a lot more at ease with a lot of decisions I make not only about the career choices I make but just life in general. So go with a flow a little!

Kathleen Halloran, Graduate Year: 2013

After Clonard I studied contemporary music at the Australian Institute of Music before transferring over to a Jazz and Improvisation course at the Victorian College of The Arts.

Currently, I am loving life as a professional musician. I have the most wonderful opportunities to fill my cup across many different worlds – Spending my days and nights hopping between musical theatre pits, touring with various artists and leading my own jazz trio. (before COVID of course)

I had the most awesome music teachers in the world at Clonard who I’m forever indebted to – in particular Cathy Wilson and Steve Hobbs. They guided, supported and made transitioning into a career in music such a natural thing. It was never an option not to and that is thanks to my teachers for providing such a safe learning and performing environment.

Advice for Clonard students: Find where your spark is and trust yourself to follow it. Work hard and take every opportunity that comes up because it only takes one moment to make a career.

Michelle Winckle, Graduate year: 1996

After Clonard I travelled and lived in QLD for a while, I worked in radio stations and then travelled overseas before returning to Geelong, settled down and started my career.

Currently, I am running 5 real estate businesses and am one of the leading female auctioneers in the Geelong market.

At Clonard, English and Drama were highlights and definitely my beautiful French teacher at Chanel that gave me so much encouragement when I struggled a little in Year 11 and 12.


Advice for Clonard students: Find out what you love to do and make a career of it, then you will never feel like you are working, you are simply waking up every day to do what you love. Also don’t be afraid to take risks and give it a go as you will never know if you don’t try.

Paige Rae, Graduate Year: 2016

After Clonard I started my own fashion label and my brand was accepted into two shops. From here I was offered a full-time position at Diamond Exchange on Collins Street Melbourne as a Diamond Sales Consultant. I decided to stop my label and take this new opportunity as it was too good to pass up on. I spent 2018 working there and eventually became Assistant Manager. Towards the end of 2018 however, I had some health problems related to IBS and ended up seeing a dietician. As I continued to see my dietician and she helped me through my illness it was like my career path finally became clear and I knew exactly what I wanted to be – a dietician! I wanted to be able to help others in the same way my dietician helped me.

I resigned from my full-time Assistant Manager position and in 2019 started studying at Deakin to become a dietician. I couldn’t possibly love my course more and I am so excited to be able to work in the field in a few years.

At Clonard, I did such a range of subjects from VISCOM to PE Theory to Psychology and everything has helped me in some way. Studying a range of subjects that I enjoyed allowed me to keep my options open (and importantly enjoy VCE).


Advice for Clonard students: Please don’t put pressure on yourself to go to uni. Try things, whether that is different jobs, travel, volunteering etc. until you work out what career path is for you. It took me 2 years since leaving Clonard to work that out and I have friends and family who have taken longer. There’s no rush, just enjoy the ride and see where life takes you. What I learnt in those two years after school are some of the best life lessons I will ever learn.

Zoe Fatouros, Graduate Year: 2011

After Clonard I studied at Deakin University completing a double degree in Law and International Studies and travelled around the world.

Currently, I am a Lawyer, practicing in commercial litigation.

At Clonard the subjects that were pivotal in helping me achieve what I have are English and Legal Studies.

Advice for Clonard students: Study hard but know that obtaining an excellent ATAR score is not everything. There are always options!

Liv Penning, Graduate Year: 2017 (VCAL)

After Clonard I studied a Double Diploma in Sports Leadership & Sports Management at the Richmond FC. It gave me the opportunity to teach AFL in both China and Canada!

Currently, I am working at a Brewery making hand sanitiser as a ‘gap year’ before studying Physiotherapy in 2021.

At Clonard, the subject Personal Development made a massive difference to my confidence when we were put in situations where we had to go out of our comfort zone. As well as Work Related Skills, it gave me the chance to discover which pathway I wanted to take after school.

Advice for Clonard students: It’s okay to not know where you want to go in life, don’t panic. Use the resources you have and take the opportunities to pick at your teachers’ brains. As the wise Dory would say “Just keep swimming.”

Antonia Erceg, Graduate Year: 2015

After Clonard I studied a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours) at Deakin University, Waurn Ponds campus.

Currently, I am working on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project, as a Graduate Engineer with the Tier 1 contractor: CPB Contractors.

At Clonard the subjects that helped set me on the path towards engineering included Math Methods 3/4 (a prerequisite for my course) and Physics (not a prerequisite but extremely helpful).

Advice for Clonard students: When I was a student at Clonard, although I generally did well in all my subjects, I was never that student who got the highest SAC mark in Methods (I’m sure Mr. Callahan can attest to that hehe).

Perseverance, the ability to forgive myself when I fell short and having grit were ultimately what helped me to achieve my goals, not an Albert Einstein level IQ. I didn’t have it all figured out at 17, but I just knew I liked a challenge and getting creative about finding solutions to problems, and so Civil Engineering was a natural choice.


If you are feeling lost right now, don’t let it overwhelm you – focus on what your strengths and interests are, and remember, you may not know what your future holds, but you know who holds the future.

Antonia’s sisters, Paulina and Ana also studied at Deakin University’s School of Engineering. Read about their stories here:

Meg McKenna, Graduate Year: 2015

After Clonard I worked at a summer camp in Michigan, USA, as a camp counsellor in 2016 and again in 2019 as a program director. I studied for a year in 2017 to achieve a diploma of graphic design and I worked as a designer for about 6 months. In 2018 I was hired to be a live-in nanny in Nottingham, UK, where I worked for 15 months before returning to camp.

Currently I am back home in Australia studying a double degree in teaching and Visual Arts at ACU in Melbourne.

I was always very art focussed at school, taking Viscom and Studio Arts in Year 12. One thing that was definitely beneficial for me was also undertaking a VET subject. Throughout VCE I completed a Cert 2 in Graphic Arts at the Gordon which I enjoyed and it gave me very useful industry skills.

Advice for Clonard students: If you have a plan for your future, that’s great, but it’s not necessarily a necessity. Throughout high school I was set on being a graphic designer, I still do a little bit of freelance design work from home but I ended up rolling with the incredible opportunities that came my way and looking back now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Plans don’t always work out but often that can be for the best!

Georgia Clarke, Graduate Year: 2014

After Clonard I went to Swinburne University to study a Diploma of Event Management for a year, then straight into a Bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing, for two years. After working at multiple festivals, fun runs, shows and other events, a friend from my course got me a job at the Australian Open through Tennis Australia – working as an Accreditation Assistant. I did this for 2 consecutive years and thought it would be great on my CV. I later got a job at Channel Nine in the Docklands as a Broadcast Sales Coordinator, managing client accounts for their television advertising campaigns that ran on Channel Nine. Coles, Target, Nissan, Renault, Village Roadshow, Forty Winks were the clients I was responsible for.

Currently, I am living in London indefinitely and working for a television network called Channel 4 as an Agency Sales Assistant working with Television Advertising. My main job is to oversee my clients’ campaigns and manage their advertising accounts, ensuring they are scheduled to run in the programs they buy into to receive the maximum exposure for their brand, which will then in return help their sales.

The pathway I chose at Clonard helped me get where I am in a strange way. I absolutely loved and had a passion for Studio Art, and Health and Human Development. So much so I really wanted to be a health educator after school. I went to Monash’s open day hoping to go there. 

I wanted to check out Swinburne’s campus to look into more options. Which is where I spoke to the teachers that ran the Event Management course. It sounded so intriguing and fun and it was a pathway that had never crossed my mind before. I thought my creativity (that I experienced through art), and my leadership could shine through learning how to plan and manage events.

Advice for Clonard students:
Don’t be too hard on yourself thinking that the subjects you select in high school are the be-all and end-all. You can change your mind as many times as you like if you’re not 100 percent certain. The subjects you select can give you a pathway for sure, however, it can also be about figuring out what you like and what you don’t like. Select subjects you love and enjoy, that you may be good at, or subjects that may interest you.

Amanda LaBonte, Graduate Year: 1992

After graduating from Clonard I went to RMIT to study Business Law. This was after the advice from my parents and teachers to get something “sensible” behind me before I pursue my love of acting. I lasted 6 weeks and quit the course, just before the HECS cut-off thankfully. I spent the rest of the year working in a retail job, saving some money and doing a little bit of travel around Australia. I auditioned for drama courses in September of 1993 and started at Ballarat University in 1994, this time studying Performing Arts.

Currently, I am an actor in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I am in the ensemble, and understudy for the roles of Ginny Potter, Professor McGonnagal and Professor Umbridge. I also run an independent theatre company called Essential Theatre which has just completed its 18th year of touring Shakespeare to vineyards across Australia. And lastly, I am a proud mum of my two sons, they are 16 & 11.

Unfortunately, Drama wasn’t offered in VCE way back then however I was lucky enough to have a brilliant English Literature teacher, Mrs Myers, who ignited my love of language and Shakespeare.

Advice for Cloanrd students: Follow your heart – your instincts are always right. And if you are not certain, take some time. I think there is a lot of pressure to know what you want very early on and to go to University. Tackling a degree is a huge commitment, financially and personally, so I think it’s best to wait until you really know what you want before taking on something. When you can combine your passion with your work it’s incredibly rewarding and satisfying.


Bree Lucas, Graduate Year: 2013

After Clonard I studied a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Deakin University. Then I was accepted into a Doctor of Medicine at Deakin and I also completed a Graduate Certificate in Humanitarian Health in 2019.

Currently, I am completing my final year of medicine and applying for jobs as a medical intern! It’s my hope to get a position in rural Victoria and contribute to the health workforce shortages in these areas.

Studying Biology and Chemistry in VCE really helped me understand the basics of science for my first degree. But English was always my favourite subject and I believe putting a lot of effort into that has really helped me connect and communicate with people in my career.


Advice for Clonard students: Dream big, set personal goals, and work hard for what you want – you always get out what you put in. And never be afraid to ask for help!

Emma Day, Graduate Year: 2009

After Clonard I did a Bachelor of Philosophy (a science degree with a strange name!) at the Australian National University in Canberra majoring in biology. Throughout my degree, I had the opportunity to do research at the CSIRO and won a scholarship to do a short course in Singapore. After this, I moved to London and worked at various NGOs including London Wildlife Trust and the British Red Cross. I then did a Masters in Biodiversity, Conversation and Management at the University of Oxford supported by an Oxford Australia Scholarship.

Currently, I work at the UK Government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as a policy advisor on marine plastic pollution. I work with domestic, regional and international bodies such as the UN and the G7 to develop ways to reduce litter in the ocean – a difficult but important problem to solve. It has been an interesting and challenging time to work in the UK Government, navigating Brexit and now Covid-19!

At Clonard, my favourite subjects were maths and science and I was very supported by teachers to pursue my strengths. I always thought I would be a scientist but I’ve come to appreciate the importance of bringing scientific perspectives to the many professions that require interdisciplinary thinking. 

One of the most formative experiences at Clonard was my role in the sustainability committee, which helped me realise the power of local environmental action and cemented by a passion for driving positive change.

Advice for Clonard students: Don’t underestimate yourself and reach for opportunities outside your comfort zone. Ask for support and develop a network of people who can help you pursue your passions. Always be kind to yourself and others.

Rachel Van Zetten, Graduate Year: 2012

After Clonard I had a gap year then completed a university degree – Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery from 2014-2018. I began working as a Doctor in 2019 in Bendigo.

Currently, I am working as a junior Doctor at Bendigo Hospital doing rotations in paediatrics and the emergency department. I am looking to start training to be a GP in the next few years.

The subjects that helped me at Clonard were biology, chemistry and maths methods which were prerequisites for my degree at the time. I also completed health and human development and psychology which were really helpful particularly in the first few years of my degree.

My advice to current students is to pick subjects you enjoy as these are the easiest to motivate yourself to study. Always ask for help when you need it. In terms of your future careers, the best reason to go into a field is because you want to – not because other people told you that you should. 

There is no one right way to enter a career pathway, just because you might get a no the first time – doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream career!

Alice Eastman, Graduate Year: 2009

After Clonard I completed a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) at the University of Melbourne. I lived in Geelong and commuted to uni, worked multiple hospitality jobs, and completed internships for the Geelong Advertiser sports team and music magazines as I worked towards (what I thought would be) a journalism career.

Currently, I am working as a Commercial Partnerships Executive for the GWS Giants. I’ve lived in Sydney for almost 6 years, after deciding that the journalism path wasn’t for me, and my first job here was for a Sponsorship and Activations agency, where I worked with brands who sponsored major events and organizations (eg. Kia as the major sponsor of the Australian Open). My current role at the GIANTS has turned out to be my dream job. Once I figured out that journalism wasn’t for me, I realised that I thrived on being in an environment where I could bring people together to be part of something bigger than themselves. That’s what community sport had done for me growing up, and what organisations like the AFL do for fans across the country. My main job is to build relationships with our club sponsors, connecting them with the club and helping them engage with our members and fans.

At Clonard, I was given options to complete Year 12 subjects from as early as Year 10, so completed Further Maths and Psychology before my last year of school. In Year 12 I studied French, International Studies, Literature and Media. I put my hand up for a number of leadership opportunities and got involved in groups such as the Social Justice committee. I was also part of the group that helped pull together the first TriUMPH Festival. 

My advice for those at school is to get involved in anything you can, and don’t be too disheartened if certain opportunities don’t turn out the way you wanted. Being in a leadership position isn’t just for those who have a title – you can be a leader in your everyday life by being a positive influence in the lives of your classmates and other students.

Advice for Clonard students:

Set goals, but always be open to new opportunities. Your life, and especially your working life, isn’t always going to be what you have planned out but sometimes that’s a good thing.

There is no shortcut for hard work. Whether you’re at uni or at a job, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.

One of my favourite sayings is, “Be where your feet are.” Life can get overwhelming at times but don’t forget to be present in every moment, especially the good ones.

Libby Marks, Graduate Year: 2012

After Clonard I studied a double degree in Nursing and Midwifery at Deakin Geelong. Throughout the course I was able to gain experience in hospitals around Geelong and Melbourne. On completion of my degree, I was accepted into the 2019 graduate program at Werribee Mercy Hospital.

Currently I am employed as a Registered Nurse/Midwife at Epworth Geelong; where we recently celebrated the birth of our 1000th baby since maternity services opened 3 years ago.

At Clonard I studied a range of subjects including English, French, Legal Studies, Biology and Studio Art. The staff at Clonard supported me throughout my studies, which ultimately let me to finding my passion for women’s health.

Advice for Clonard students: Never underestimate what you can achieve with the right support and guidance.