Snowy Mountains Grammar School Alumna (Class of 2016, Twynam), Lucy Schroeder, held the position of Academic Captain in her final year at SMGS and was the Dux of the 2016 cohort. Lucy is currently completing a degree in Law from the Women’s College within the University of Sydney and is a Katrina Dawson Foundation Scholar.
When it comes to her motivation and life pursuits, Lucy said, “I still don’t really know exactly what path I want to follow in my career; I’ve never been particularly motivated to follow one set path. I think I’m motivated by a desire to better myself, by the opportunity to try new things, to expose myself to different settings and to gain new skills. I like to think I’m also motivated by a desire to connect with my community and make it a better place. I try to seek opportunities which allow me to contribute to my community and connect with those around me.”
Of Lucy’s time at SMGS, Dr Darryl Nelson, Director of Curriculum and Academic Development, said, “Lucy was a wonderfully insightful student, whose hard work in her time at SMGS paid off, attaining multiple Band 6 results in the HSC, including 2nd in the entire state for Senior Science. Her subject selections were heavily based on Science subjects and although she didn’t pursue a career in Science, the knowledge she gained will be of great benefit to her in the future.
“I have a great deal of respect for Lucy as a student and a person and guiding her through her senior years was an absolute pleasure.”
What path did you follow after you graduated from SMGS? How did you become interested in that pathway (education, career, interest)?
After graduating from SMGS, I went straight into a five-year Arts/Law degree at the University of Sydney. In Year 12, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so choosing a degree was daunting. I had many interests, in STEM and in the humanities, and I didn’t know how to narrow it down. I was passionate about addressing inequalities and injustice in society, but there are many different careers with this element. Ultimately, I chose to study law because I thought it would give me the skills and foundation for this – whether or not I end up practising in the legal profession.
What is your current occupation, organisation and position?
I’m currently a part-time paralegal at the National Justice Project, an organisation that provides legal services for refugees in offshore detention and Aboriginal people who have faced injustice in the health and criminal justice systems, among other cases. This has been an amazing experience, that has exposed me to many different tasks and areas of law. I’m also still a full-time student. I have eighteen months of my degree left.
What is the biggest source of motivation for your career and life pursuits?
I still don’t really know exactly what path I want to follow in my career; I’ve never been particularly motivated to follow one set path. I think I’m motivated by a desire to better myself, by the opportunity to try new things, to expose myself to different settings and to gain new skills. I like to think I’m also motivated by a desire to connect with my community and make it a better place. I try to seek opportunities which allow me to contribute to my community and connect with those around me.
How did your time at SMGS help you in your journey to your current career and life pursuits?
I was lucky to have teachers at SMGS who were determined to help me do my best. They saw my potential and helped me to achieve what I have so far. It was far more than just getting the marks which got me into the degree I wanted. My teachers mentored me, and sometimes had more faith in me than I had in myself, and that support was incredibly valuable during Year 12 and beyond. I also think SMGS places an important emphasis on exploring opportunities beyond the classroom. The breadth of activities I was encouraged to take part in during school helped shaped my attitude to getting involved in a range of activities in adulthood. This has certainly led to many opportunities.
What are some of your most memorable moments from your time at SMGS?
To this day, I still think about the choc chip muffins from the canteen. I think they are the best muffins I have ever had. I’ve never found any others quite as good.
What programs did you participate in and what co-curricular opportunities did you have?
I had so many opportunities at SMGS – netball, Maria Kisich and debating competitions, school camps and excursions. I don’t think I realised at the time just how lucky I was to have so many different opportunities (though I don’t miss the Thredbo Run). My friends in Sydney are amazed I used to go skiing every week for school sport.
What advice would you give to students who are beginning their HSC journey and starting to think about their future after they graduate?
I really feel for the current Year 12 students. It’s been an incredibly challenging year and the future seems increasingly uncertain. I’d tell them to look after themselves physically and mentally, ask for help if they need it and reach out to people around them for support. They’re lucky to be in an environment where their teachers can get to know them well and give them individualised support, which I benefited greatly from when I was at SMGS. I can honestly say that my HSC year was more stressful than anything I have faced at university or in life since. I think getting through it will more than prepare them for whatever is ahead, no matter how uncertain the future is.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the SMGS Alumni/Old Scholars community?
I rarely spend time in Jindabyne anymore, so I value having a way to stay connected to my school and my hometown. It’s really lovely to run into people from SMGS, especially as there aren’t too many of us in Sydney. We share a pretty unique schooling experience, and we’ll always have that in common.