News from Ruth Hoog Antink, graduated 2010
QAHS invited 2008 year 10 foundation student and 2010 graduate Ruth Hoog Antink to take a look at the link http://blogs.ibo.org/blog/2015/05/13/next-generation-girls/ and provide us with a comment on women in Engineering as well as update us on her post QAHS experiences. It was great to hear from Ruth, and about some of her recent experiences and her reflection on her time at QAHS.
“As I near the end of my degree, I thought I’d touch base to let you know what I’ve been up to since leaving QAHS in 2010. I’m now half way through the fourth and final year of my Engineering (Advanced Studies) degree in Civil Engineering at Griffith – just across the bridge from QAHS.
I enrolled in this degree after a gap year in 2011 during which I did short courses at UTS Sydney and U Cal Berkeley and a full semester for credit at Harvard University in Boston. I took all these courses because I was trying to finally decide what I wanted to study at uni.
At the end of my gap year, although my Harvard exam results would have qualified me to stay there and complete my first degree, I chose to return to Australia and do an Engineering degree at Griffith. Since my Year 12 IB results had been quite good, I was accepted into the Advanced Studies course in Engineering – and that’s what I’ve been doing since 2012.
During all this time, there has been hardly a day when I have not recalled how grateful I am that I finished high school at QAHS and that I did the IB, and especially that I had to do an Extended Essay (EE).
As soon as I enrolled in first year uni, it became very clear that those of us in Engineering who had done IB for Year 12 (anywhere, not just at QAHS) had a marked advantage over students who had not. Because of the EE, we already knew how to plan and conduct research, how to be confident about academic writing, and how to do up a list of references in a flash.
If you are a current QAHS student who is struggling with an EE and wondering if it really is worth all the effort – believe me it is! Every hour you spend today on your EE is time that you will save later when you find yourself at uni. And I didn’t even do my EE in anything remotely related to Engineering!
As well as my Engineering studies over the past few years, I’ve served as an elected member of the Executive of the Griffith Student Guild and as an Engineering Peer Mentor. I’ve also been an active member of the Griffith Honours College and a uni ambassador, and I’ve even worked as a volunteer on a construction project in Africa. This year I’ve also been a paid sessional tutor for a third-year Engineering course, and I am constantly surprised at how much I enjoy it, given that any kind of public speaking used to terrify me!
Since enrolling at Griffith, I have won three scholarships and five academic awards, including the prize for standing first in second–year Engineering – all Griffith campuses and all areas of Engineering.
Last November, I won a scholarship to work on an Engineering project at the University of Southern Denmark. I lived there for three months (see photo) in the middle of a cold, very dark northern winter, and no I didn’t love very minute of it, but I would not have forgone this opportunity for anything. I was able to take time off and travel all over Europe – including meeting up with some other 2010 QAHS graduates in Berlin at Christmas!
To put all that into perspective, you need to know that when I walked through the doors of QAHS for the very first time in Year 10 in the Foundation Year (while the landscapers out the front were still planting trees and laying grass to try to make the place look more like a school and less like a construction site …), I had never won an academic award for anything – ever. Never been a dux and never stood first in any subject – ever. In fact before enrolling at QAHS, I had never done particularly well in school.
In three years, QAHS transformed me from a student with high ability into a student with high achievement. This gave me the determination to enrol in what I really wanted to do in the end – Engineering. Without attending QAHS, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to choose such a non-traditional field. But now that I’m almost through, I can say that being a woman in Engineering has never actually been a big deal. Yes we’re in the minority, but usually that means that we are more determined and more motivated, and as a result we come out above those few classmates who may have doubted our ability in the beginning.
So if you are a girl and you enjoy Math and Physics, then don’t be discouraged by the fact that Engineering is a male-dominated course, but rather have a good think about applying for it at uni… I’m sure you won’t regret it – I sure don’t!”
Ruth Hoog Antink