Where Are They Now? – Learning with Confidence

Where Are They Now?

Peter Donnelly

When did you complete the HSC / IB and where?

I completed my HSC in 2010 at Sydney Grammar School. My final mark was 91.7%

What field are you currently working in?

I work in Human Resources within the NGO/charitable Sector at Oxfam in Oxford U.K.

How do you now reflect on your final year at school? Have you changed direction since then?

I have absolutely changed direction career-wise, as I originally worked in the aviation sector as a flight attendant.

Reflecting on my HSC year, Year 12 was one of my best years in high school because as a cohort we had overcome any difficulties associated with puberty and fluctuating friendship groups. I also feel that I developed my initial, cognitive analytical skills, particularly within HSC English, as I was encouraged to analyse prescribed texts and compare these with my own choices to explore particular concepts. This choice allowed greater intellectual freedom beyond the rigid syllabus requirements.

Studying Italian in Year 12 also assisted me with further independent and flexible thinking by not preparing my answers to speaking questions and essays. This strategy greatly assisted me in undertaking my first year university studies at The University of Sydney in my Bachelor of International and Global Studies. With a great deal of information to master, I certainly refined summarising skills too. University definitely required thinking ‘outside the box’ so to speak.  

The help of Stephen from Learning with Confidence was instrumental in helping me to adopt a balanced view of history, especially with his insights into the rise of Nazism within the Weimar Republic and this was helpful in first year at USyd. I still find that I use fragments of this knowledge when travelling, for instance visiting the Nuremberg Trial and other sites of historical interest.

Looking back, although I enjoyed my school years, I feel perhaps that the focus on academic work, rather than encouraging us to socialise with friends beyond school to develop life and communication skills, is a cause for some regret. I think these life skills developed for me more recently during my MSc International Relations at the University of Bristol, and later during in my MSc Human Resources and Organisations at The London School of Economics.

We hope that you felt supported during your time with us at Learning with Confidence. Would you care to comment on this?

I definitely felt that Margaret and Stephen supported me throughout my high school years. Undoubtedly I would have struggled in English without that support. Combined with developing my skills and knowledge throughout my years in high school, I also feel that Margaret has supported me as a close friend and has thus become a lifelong friend of myself and my family.