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Vincentia High School

Vincentia High School

Learning For Life

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Rhiannon Auld

Artwork in photo is Bibi Barba, Terri Butterfly Flowers Dreaming 2020.

What year did you graduate VHS?

I graduated from VHS in 2013, with a class of incredible people. 

Where are you working now and in what role? Tell me about your journey.

I am a newly admitted solicitor working at Terri Janke & Company, a commercial law firm specialising in Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property. I have been working at the firm for almost three months and have had the opportunity to work on some really interesting projects with a really great team.

While completing my studies I was working in NSW Government. I worked at the Department of Communities and Justice as a Financial Investigations Assistant, and in Legal Aid’s Family Law - Complex Litigation Unit as a paralegal.  I also completed an exchange program in Germany for 6-months where I studied International Law and Security and was fortunate enough to do a bit of travelling throughout Europe.

My career so far has really involved me falling into unexpected roles and opportunities and finding new interests in places that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered. I always thought I’d end up in family law, and really focussed my studies and career plan on that goal. I learnt very quickly that a rigid life plan very rarely ‘goes to plan’.  

What do you love about your job?

There are so many things that I love about my job, although I am still relatively new, and I am sure I will discover more. I love that I can work with clients on an individual level and help them during really exciting parts of their lives. I also really enjoy working on larger projects, where I can play a part in helping to shift understandings and industry standards when it comes to cultural heritage and Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property. There is so much diversity in the work that I do at Terri Janke & Company. It keeps it interesting, but it also always ties back to empowering and championing the rights of First Nations peoples. I love that about my job, and I am really grateful to have this opportunity.

Did anyone at VHS inspire you to follow your chosen career path?

Although not in regard to my particular career path, there were quite a few teachers and mentors that inspired me to continue my studies. In particular, Mrs Brunswick and Mr Newton. I often think of the role they both played in such formative years of my life, and I will always be grateful for their infinite source of support and encouragement.

Did you have many challenges to get to where you are now?

I think you’re a very lucky person if you didn’t experience some kind of adversity, whether that’s throughout high school, your university or TAFE studies, or life in general!

One of the challenges I faced came from a place of self-doubt. I found high school challenging and didn’t really find my groove for studying until university. It’s a lot easier to find the motivation to study something when you are passionate about it. Even so, I questioned myself a great deal during university (usually around exam time). I also on occasion found I was comparing myself to other students, I was hard on myself, and didn’t celebrate my successes.

Do you have any advice for our current students?​

Yes, I have a few points…

  1. You don’t have to have it all figured out! One of the reasons I chose a Bachelor of Law and International Studies was because it was a degree with a lot of career options.
  2. Surround yourself with people that lift you up! During my university studies I found a small group of people that I would study with. We’d meet up at the library, order some take-out, have some laughs and study until we realised the library was about to boot us out. It helps when you’re in it together.
  3. Your self-doubts are nothing but unwanted thoughts: We all doubt ourselves. I have met some incredibly distinguished people who have confessed to me that they (even today) experience thoughts of self-doubt. When I was in high school, the idea that I would be a solicitor was pretty farfetched… I trudged on, through the thoughts of self-debt, and did it. So can you, and then onto the next thing!