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Academic Honours and Leaders presentation speech

Posted February 25, 2013.

Academic Honours and Leaders presentation speech

At the end of the third week of the new year, I could not be happier with how the year settled. The students are focused, working hard and seemingly very happy to be back and involved.

House Performing Arts rehearsals have begun and all are invited to attend this significant event in the Senior School that will be held in the Gym at 1pm on Friday 8 March.


“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, and all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

Opportunity, as much as we desire it, can be a scary thing.

Think about what Shakespeare is claiming in this quote – if this ONE chance is not grasped; then we will be ‘bound in shallows and in miseries’ for the rest of our lives.

If Shakespeare is right, what a terrifying fate that would be!

But, I think that Shakespeare may be wrong

We live in a world where sometimes we appear to be faced with lots of opportunities, tides ebb and flow on a regular basis – which is a wonderful thing

But it creates a new dilemma – how do we know which opportunities to take; and which to let pass us by?

Many people spend large amounts of time wondering, which are the chances that are going to lead us to fortune – that if we don’t take; could condemn us to a life of regret?

This can be a stressful puzzle; and often leads to people trying to grab all opportunities – even when they are pulling them in completely different directions

You can recognise this in others when you see them frantically running from place to place, constantly on edge and unable to relax


Conversely, this dilemma can lead people to take none of the opportunities that are in front of them; fearing they may miss out on the ONE ‘big’ opportunity if they don’t wait just a little bit longer.

Both of these responses can be disastrous – if we take too many opportunities we over-commit

And, as a result, we never put the effort in to see any of them through to fruition

And so, while we intended to make the best of our opportunities, we never truly take advantage

But if we take none then we can be left in the doldrums – appearing to be stuck.

Luckily, we have people to assist us

But more importantly we are each endowed with two innate properties to guide us; our reason and our passion

Your reason is your rudder, it gives you balance and steers you in the right direction.

It allows you to weigh up your options

And think through the consequences

Your passion is your sail; it catches the winds and allows you to move forward

It gives you the drive you need to succeed at anything

And while your heart and your head are often depicted as being in conflict; it is only when you can use these two instruments in tandem that you can successfully navigate the sea of opportunities.

Reason, without passion, will leave you at a standstill – stuck at sea unable to move – or as Dr. Seuss put it – left in the ‘waiting place’

But passion, without reason, can lead you to being smashed against the rocks; and ultimately destroyed.

So you need to listen to both; and listen carefully.

This means that you need to find time to reflect; to clearly identify what you want from any given situation or aspect of your life.

To do this successfully, you need to give yourself space, when you are not going to be distracted by other things.

Also be aware that your passions will change

You need to know that you will find yourselves in places that you never imagined that you would be.

Sometimes, that will be something to embrace – an unexpected happiness, which is to be celebrated and ignites a new passion in your life

Try not to resist this change in direction – happiness, fulfilment and sense of achievement are all things which are worth holding on to, even if you find it doing something or being somewhere you didn’t expect

I have told the story many times that if someone had said to me when I was 18 that I would become a teacher I would have laughed

In fact, not only would I have laughed, but many of the teachers I have had would have thought it was some sort of prank

But in the quest to make money as a broke student I started tutoring students when I was in Year 12

This was not an ‘a-ha’ moment, that radically changed my view of the world; but the start of a slow process of learning about what I enjoyed doing

Over the next 7 years, I went to Uni, worked my way into a management position at one of the world’s largest businesses and went back to uni to complete a thesis – then at 25 I was stuck.

Working in an office had not been for me, I didn’t feel like I was achieving anything worthwhile even though my team was exceeding targets and I was receiving positive quarterly reviews

I had found researching a thesis to be a lonely endeavour – I preferred to be surrounded by people

At a crossroads – I was talking to my mother one night – who said ‘well I have never understood why you haven’t considered teaching – you have always enjoyed tutoring’ – like duh! Isn’t it obvious?

I hung up the phone, thought about it over night and in the morning put in my application to complete my Dip. Ed. – 12 months later I began working at BCC

Not what I had ever expected to be doing and certainly not where I expected to be – and yet this is my 7thyear at the school and, so far,  I haven’t felt the need to flee

While, there are many examples of life working out differently but for the better; there may be times when you will be somewhere that you don’t want to be.

A recent Forbes study found that 66% of people polled in the USA were dissatisfied in their jobs –

Think about that – most people spend at least ½ of their waking hours in work and yet 66% of people were unhappy.

What had they done about this?


Had these people carefully listened to their reason and passion?

Perhaps some had, but I suspect many had simply continued without taking time to reflect on whether they were actually happy

That is why you need courage – the courage to ask yourselves the questions, to make a change; to give up an opportunity, to change direction.

Sometimes we avoid this in case others see a shift in direction as failure, none of us likes to be judged

But the reality is that those who really care for use would never see it in this way.

Other times we can get so caught up in ‘getting it right’ that we forget that there are multiple rights

And instead what we should be trying to do is maximise our chances with whatever path we choose, through really working hard to make the most of it, while also being willing to recognise when it’s wrong and to do something about it.

Don’t worry – you will make mistakes along the way – everybody does – but you will also have plenty of chances to shift direction. If you give life your all, and are open to change, you will be fine.

To the 2012 graduates here today; as you enter the next phase of your journey, I wish you a life without regrets.

Every single one of us, in this room, is lucky enough to have many opportunities – the challenge is to navigate our way through them, using our reason and our passion, so that we can be the best that we can be.”


Laura Brady

VCE Co-ordinator