In her own words, Courtney Wright could have been a poster girl for the many students who truly hate school and ‘just know’ they’ll never go to university — at least not in the traditional sense of chasing an ATAR and then praying for a first-round offer.
No, Courtney Wright hated school, hated learning, and only turned up (most days) because she loved to socialise and she did enjoy playing sport.
As she recalls, by the time she reached Year 10 at Kerang Technical High School in 2011, Courtney didn’t even have a proper school bag, she didn’t take a pen, she rarely touched her text books, and she was ‘well and truly’ causing concern for her parents.
‘I wasn’t a bad kid and I didn’t hate my teachers or anything like that — not at all — I just hated learning in that traditional format (because) it just never clicked for me and I couldn’t find a way around that,’ Courtney says.
‘If there was a way to get out of going to school, I was a bit of an expert,’ she says.
‘I know Mum and Dad were worried about me; I think there were times they just prayed I’d find my way to something good and, fortunately, that’s what happened when I did work experience in Year 10 and I fell in love with nursing.’
Work Experience Changed Everything.
Courtney on her graduation day.
Courtney undertook work experience at her town’s aged care facility, and from that moment forward she became fixated on forging a career as an aged care nurse. She still hated school, and she definitely still hated school classes, but she was determined to find her way to a life in nursing.
‘Doing work experience at Northaven, I just loved every minute of it — I loved spending time with the oldies, helping them, looking after them, and I just knew I’d found what I wanted to do; what I wanted to be,’ Courtney recalls.
‘When I went back to school, I hounded them about starting a school-based apprenticeship so I could get my Certificate Three in Aged Care and, thankfully, they made it happen,’ she says.
‘I am forever grateful to my school and to Northaven for creating that opportunity for me — I’m pretty sure I was Kerang’s first school-based apprentice of that kind, but I know there have been many who have followed, and that’s really pleasing.’
Courtney began her school-based apprenticeship in Year 11. She attended school four days per week and worked at the nursing home each Wednesday. By the end of Year 12 she had managed to scrape her VCE certificate and her Cert Three in Aged Care, which is what really mattered to her.
‘After Year 12, I continued working at Northaven because I had my certificate and I also enrolled at TAFE in Bendigo to become an enrolled nurse (EN), which is a pathway into university to then become a registered nurse (RN),’ she says.
‘I continued working at Northaven as an EN, while I studied to become an RN, and then I did my graduate year here at the Kerang Hospital — and I’m still here.’
Courtney accepting an oncology donation from Kerang Lions Club member, Greg Gin.
But it doesn’t end there …
This year — and despite her distinguished dislike for learning — Courtney has graduated as a Rural and Isolated Practice Endorsed Registered Nurse (RIPERN), meaning she has a Scheduled Medicines Endorsement and is able to provide a wider range of primary care, including the administration and supply of a range of approved medicines where there is no or limited access to general practitioners (GPs), nurse practitioners, paramedics or pharmacists.
Essentially, she’s now part of a rural-specific advanced skills nursing program to help address a doctor shortage in country Victoria.
Not bad for a kid who didn’t even get an ATAR.
‘School is definitely not everything — it is important in the pathway you will go down, and there are certain subjects that can heavily influence your pathway but, ultimately, that’s the point – it’s your pathway and you can decide where it leads,’ Courtney says.
‘I was never going to get to university straight out of school because I didn’t apply myself, but I knew what I wanted and, so, I went about making that happen in my own way,’ she says.
‘I suppose that’s a big piece of advice for current students — to them I would say, it’s okay if you decide not to focus on an ATAR but, equally, you need to be thinking about how else you’ll achieve your dreams.
‘And they (schools) should be doing everything they can to facilitate pathways like this and not only focusing on scores and uni — you know, making sure they create options for students like Kerang did for me.’
Courtney with her mum, Nola.