School Captain profile – Nell Ryan

Nell Ryan started at GVGS in 2013 as a Year 5 student and quickly embraced the extracurricular activities the school had to offer. “I’ve always been involved in school productions…I’ve been in all of them since I started here in Year 5, except for one,” she says proudly. She was excited to pursue her passion for music, singing and theatrics as a primary school student, and this has continued right throughout her schooling. “I’ve been singing for so long,” she says. “I started singing lessons when I was in primary school and I’m still doing them now.”

The eldest of four children – Hugh (Year 8), Eve (Grade 4) and Ewan (Grade 1) – the confident, outgoing, and articulate 17 year old was humbled when she was offered her senior leadership role for 2020. “My preferred [Year 12 prefect] portfolios were Music and School Community,” she says. “I wasn’t a Year 6 or Middle Years Leader, so getting this position was a pleasant surprise.”

Although a significant responsibility to take on during her final year of VCE, Nell felt she was adequately prepared to be School Captain. At the end of 2019, Nell received the Inaugural Reverend John Lever Award. The Reverend John Lever Award is presented by Ecumenical Schools Australia – a network of co-educational independent schools – and recognises Year 11 students who have demonstrated a spirit of compassion, resilience, the ability to connect with others and broad-mindedness. Nell is also a badged netball umpire and has navigated her way through some tricky situations, subsequently developing a strong sense of resilience during her time as an adjudicator. “It can sometimes be a bit intimidating…people can get very competitive, and they’re a fair bit older than me usually too,” she says. “It’s been good; it’s taught me how to stand my ground.”

Nell has chosen to take on four mainstream subjects for 2020 – English, Chemistry, Mathematical Methods and Indonesian as a Second Language – as well as ‘VCE Plus History’; a La Trobe University subject. “Having Dr. von Güttner as my teacher for History Revolutions last year and now having him as my tutor for my VCE Plus class has been fantastic,”, she says. Although she has focused much of her senior studies on history, Nell’s aspirations for the future are altogether different. “History is just something that I really enjoy…I really want to do medicine though.”

When quizzed as to why she’s planning on studying Medicine at Monash University next year, Nell’s answer is quite extensive. “In Year 7 I became quite unwell, and through that I had the opportunity to meet some incredible medical people,” she says. Nell then details her relationship with Professor Sonia Grover from the Royal Children’s Hospital and Dr. Simon Cohen from Monash Children’s Hospital that developed during her time as a patient. “For me, what those doctors did for me at that time changed my life,” she says. “If I could even have half the impact they had on me on another person that would mean the world to me…that’s what drives me to want to study medicine.” Also confirming Nell’s desire to study medicine was her work experience opportunity at the St John of God Hospital in Ballarat in 2019 where she was fortunate enough to shadow an Anaesthetist and observe a variety of surgeries. “I got to see so much,” she says. “I was really lucky, I got to sit in on an emergency Caesarean…it was amazing.”

Although Nell plans to head straight to university in 2021, she has travel plans in sight. Having already travelled to Sumatra, Indonesia for the GVGS World Challenge in 2017/2018 and visited the USA for the GVGS STEM Tour in 2017, Nell is looking forward to continuing her globetrotting after high school. “I’m really looking forward to doing some overseas travel during the semester breaks,” she says. “I love travelling.”

With much of the year still to unfold, Nell is moving through 2020 with School Captain partner James Nethersole and is guided by the words of wisdom from friend and 2019 School Captain, Olivia Bolton. “When I spoke with Olivia, she said to get involved with everything and to enjoy the year because it flies,” Nell says. “She also told me to make sure I’m organized; it makes everything much easier.” But it isn’t only Olivia Bolton who has left a lasting impression on Nell. She recalls the impact 2019 School Community prefect, Farhan Islam had on the GVGS students during his leadership role and the respect for him that echoed across all year levels. “I remember Farhan learned the name of pretty much every single person in the school…he made a connection with everyone,” she says. “He genuinely cared for the school community and I’d love to be able to emulate that.”

Recently, Nell hit a highly anticipated milestone as School Captain: her prefect speech. “I did my prefect speech on Friday just gone; I can’t believe it’s over,” she says of the bittersweet moment in time. “I’ve always wanted to do a prefect speech, ever since year 5, and now it’s over.” When asked about her goals for 2020, Nell knows for certain what she wants to get out of her time as GVGS School Captain. “I really want to leave a legacy once I’ve gone,” she says. “I want to have an impact on people.”