Girls Who Can

We have so many strong female role models in the Toorak College community. Our Girls Who Can campaign is all about celebrating our past and present students, sharing their incredible stories, and empowering girls to chase their dreams.

We hope that you have been inspired by our Girls Who Can Campaign. Throughout the month of May we have showcased the stories of 31 exceptional women who form part of the Toorak College community!

This is Kristy

Mrs Kristy Kendall is the 16th Principal of Toorak College, a position she cherishes every single day. “As educators, so much of our role is to guide students to a future where they can do what they love every day. I am lucky enough to be doing just that!”

From a very young age, Kristy knew that she wanted to be a teacher and be a positive influence on young people's lives. “I had some incredible teachers when I was in school and they made a lasting impact on my life. My hope is to make a positive difference on the lives of my students."

A proud member of the Mornington Peninsula community, you will find Kristy at school and community events year-round supporting her staff and students. “I am incredibly proud to be known for knowing every Toorak student. I value each one as a member of the community and care for, respect and believe in them all.”

A Harvard Principal's program graduate, an author of 8 VCE Psychology textbooks and an authority on educating girls, Kristy has been asked to present at the Global Forum on Girls’ Education in Washington DC next month. “It is an honour to be invited to speak in Washington. I am a strong believer in the benefits of an all-girls education and am looking forward to presenting on the effect of school transition on student wellbeing.”

This is Amalia

“I remember being in Prep and having my first Piano lesson. Instantly, I fell in love with it.”

Amalia is part of the furniture in Toorak College’s music department, spending 10 – 15 hours a week rehearsing and studying. A member of the final four on Channel 7’s The X Factor in 2016, Amalia considers this achievement to be the highlight of her life so far. “It was a scary experience but one that has helped develop me as a person. I look back and am so thankful that Toorak was such a supportive environment to grow up in and that I had learnt how to be confident in myself before being thrown into the spotlight.”

Amalia cherishes the fact that she is someone that young girls look up to. “When I was on the show it was always in the back of my mind to be able to show the Preps that a normal Toorak girl can get on stage, be confident and chase their dreams.” Her advice to younger girls is to “try to always be the best person you can be.”

Currently Amalia is studying Contemporary Singing with vocal teacher Mr David Rogers-Smith as part of her VCE. “As part of this subject you have to have a range of difference genres including contemporary ballads, jazz and even swing. My voice has expanded so much under his guidance.” Performing and singing will always be part of Amalia’s life. “My whole goal in music is to make people feel something. It is all about telling stories.”

This is Stephanie (TC 2002)

Stephanie attended Toorak College from Prep to Year 12 and since graduating has found herself frequently reflecting on the lasting friendships she made and the “incredible amount of opportunities I received from academic, performance based, leadership and even sport.”

Photography and Media excited Stephanie at school and her teachers helped her harness her passion for those areas, leading her to study a Bachelor of Communications (Business) at Bond University. “When I was at university, digital marketing was just emerging. I landed my first role in a digital agency straight after university and it has been a privilege to be part of the evolution of the digital industry and to see how ingrained in every facet of business it is today.”

Having forged a successful career in digital advertising, working with brands such as Maybelline New York and Jetstar, Stephanie has recently launched her own business, Miss Collective. “I’m really passionate about helping women succeed. Ultimately, Miss Collective is about empowering women and providing them with the opportunities, skills and networks to help take their careers to the next level.”

As for her advice for today’s students, Stephanie says, “think about what you have been most interested in at school and what career paths might be available to you. Talk to people in those industries to understand what a day in their life really looks like. Have a coffee (or tea!) with as many people as possible and ask lots of questions. Most people will be happy to give up half an hour of their time to give you an insight into their world, and help you on your journey.”

This is Chloe

Chloe was young when she fell in love with horses. Fast-forward a decade and Chloe is one of Victoria’s brightest junior show jumpers and is coached by Olympian Laurie Lever.

Chloe and Fosbury Flop, aptly named after a style of high jump, have been a successful combination for a number of years and represent Victoria at events nationwide. In April, they won the Under 18 South Australian State Jumping Championships. “I love the adrenaline rush you get when jumping, you can definitely tell when you get it right and it’s a really great feeling!”

Having been a member of the successful Toorak College Equestrian Team for a number of years, Chloe enjoys watching the younger riders fall in love with the sport and improve year on year. “It’s so nice to be able to mentor the young riders and see them move up from a 60cm jump to a 1m jump.”

When Chloe finishes school, she plans to study Veterinary Science. But before undertaking further study, Chloe plans to take a gap year and during that time she will concentrate on her riding and compete in events around Australia. “I ride for fun and never want that to change.”

This is Alexa

Alexa embraces every challenge and loves to push herself outside of her comfort zone, most recently by tackling a VCE subject in Year 10 and by getting involved in impromptu debating.

"My teachers have really encouraged me. They believe in me. And they give us so many opportunities. I have really benefited from this so want to be that source of encouragement and belief for other people too. I want to help others achieve and be the best version of themselves."

This is Susan (TC 1993)

Lieutenant Commander Susan Harris was recently awarded the Australia Day Conspicuous Service Medal, recognising her leadership, dedication and knowledge as a workforce specialist and submariner. “I have always been quite independent and driven and it was in Year 9 that I decided that I wanted to join the Navy. It isn’t a common career choice but my teachers were very supportive. I was offered a placement in Year 12 and I will always remember the day a helicopter landed on the Toorak College oval to deliver my papers!”

As the first ever female Executive Officer on a Royal Australian Navy submarine, Susan has witnessed so much change over her 24-year career. "It wasn’t until the late 1990s that women were allowed to serve on board Australian Navy submarines so I was one of the first. Being in the Navy has personal and professional challenges but not once have the challenges ever stopped me.”

Married to a fellow Submarine Officer and with three wonderful children, Susan has recently headed back to sea to fulfil her career goals and is the Executive Officer of HMAS Rankin, a Collins Class Submarine.

When it comes to advice for girls looking to pursue a career in the Navy, Susan believes that “working hard, being resilient and being open to opportunities that come your way” are the keys to success.

This is Camryn

A high achieving student, Camryn is a member of the Monash Scholars program and part of Monash University’s VCE extension program. As part of her Year 12 studies, Camryn is studying International Studies and attends lectures and tutes at Monash Clayton once a week. “Uni is such a different experience to school. I thought it would be scary but it isn’t as intimidating as I first thought!”

What Camryn enjoys most about University are the discussions and debates that take place in tutes. “Toorak teaches us to challenge ideas and to think in different ways and developing those skills at school has been so helpful in preparing me for life at Uni.”

After graduating from Toorak College, Camryn hopes to study a double degree in International Security Studies and Criminology at ANU. She has her sights set on one-day working in counter intelligence.

This is Peppa

Surrounded by strong, ambitious and successful female role models her entire life, Peppa knows that "if you believe in yourself, you can do anything."

A future doctor or lawyer, Peppa has been working on improving her confidence, especially when it comes to speaking in front of large groups of people. "I get really nervous and I know that I just need to believe that I can do it. Mr Dunlop and Mrs Sharp have really encouraged me to have a go and be confident and I am definitely getting better thanks to them."

This is Georgia (TC 2008)

Toorak College was where Georgia’s passion for community service was ignited. “There was always a focus on empowering women at school, it was part of my life growing up. I remember in Year 9 we looked at human trafficking, which opened my eyes to what was going on in the world and how privileged we are.”

Georgia took the initial leap to volunteer when she was 19. “I went to Kenya by myself to help rebuild schools and communities. Last time I was there, I set up a literacy program in the library that we built. I was 23 and female, the gender balance in Kenya is not good, so some senior male figures didn’t take me seriously which was challenging.” Georgia returned to Australia to study graphic design and soon after met the founder of Free to Shine, an organisation that works to prevent sex trafficking in Cambodia, and now, six years later, Georgia is one of the Board of Directors. "I’ve seen the organisation come a long way. The first 2 years were research based as we wanted to make sure that it was a success, now there is an office in Cambodia with 20 staff and we have helped 700 girls go to school. It has been very rewarding.”

Georgia’s advice to current students is to go out and do what you want to do, even if it’s against the grain. “Do what you say you’re going to do. Back yourself and follow your dreams.”

This is Gia

Gia's friends describe her as caring, kind and fun.

Gia loves her friends, especially when they make her laugh and when they look after her. "I love my friends and my friends love me. We have so much fun together and we will be friends forever."

This is Holly

A talented athlete, Holly has represented Victoria seven times in Athletics and Netball in recent years. Most recently, she was selected to represent Victoria as part of the School Sport Victorian State Under 15 Netball team.

Holly’s dream is to one day play in the Super League or become an Australian Diamond and she looks to continually improve her fitness and skills. A few years ago, Holly was told that she wouldn’t be tall enough to be a Goal Defender, so she has spent countless hours on and off the court to become a formidable Centre / Wing Attack. “There are a lot of late nights and I play or train 5 days a week.”

Holly believes that loving what you do is key. “People, especially girls, are dropping out of sport at such a young age. It can get really tough at times so it is so important to make sure you have fun.

This is Tiffany (TC 2013)

Tiffany was inspired to join The Australian Army after being introduced to military aviation in her early years of high school. “The Army represented everything that I was interested in – the opportunity to lead, to think and to keep active.”

Since leaving school, Tiffany has completed a Business Degree and training at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. Currently based at the Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane, Tiffany has now set her goal on becoming a Chinook helicopter pilot.

One of Tiffany’s career highlights was being part of an exchange program that went to China to train with the People’s Liberation Army as well as having the opportunity to compete in the 2016 Sandhurst competition at Westpoint, United States. Despite being a very physically and mentally demanding course, Tiffany believes that her confidence and strong sense of self were the reasons why she was selected. She credits a large part of this to her time at Toorak College. “At the time you don’t realise how much you are growing and how school life can shape you. I left Toorak knowing exactly who I was, what I stood for and my worth.”

In her current team of over 300 people, Tiffany is one of the only females. “The women before me have definitely paved the way and while you do, as a female, face additional scrutiny, I really think that standing out from the crowd has its advantages. Especially when you can do more push-ups than your male counterparts!”

This is Lexie

No matter what class she is in... art, music, maths, science, writing or library... Lexie loves to learn! Lexie especially likes to learn from other people and considers her sister a great teacher and role model. "My sister teaches me how to draw and is really patient with me. She helps me a lot."

After school, Lexie would like to to help others learn. At the moment she is trying to decide whether she will be a Vet, a Nurse or a Teacher.

This is Molly

Molly has been singing since she was in Year 1 and she loves to listen to and perform everything from classical to pop – but it is classical music where her passion lies.

Recently Molly performed in Opera Australia’s ‘Tosca’ at the State Theatre, sharing the stage with some of the world’s finest Opera singers including Latonia Moore and Diego Torre. As one of thirteen children in the cast, Molly played an evil boy scout. “In the world of Opera it’s pretty common for a girl to play a boy. The hardest part was singing in Italian!”

Molly is looking forward to performing in Toorak College’s choirs and productions over the next five years and has her sights set on going to the Victorian College of the Arts one day. “I really look up to people like Anna Kendrick. She started in musical theatre and is now a big star, famous for her movies.”

This is Stephanie (TC 2008)

Having begun her Toorak College journey in preschool, Stephanie says “I saw first hand the benefits of participating in as many activities as you could. I learnt that even things that I tried and didn’t shine at were still enjoyable and valuable experiences.”

As a member of the Equestrian Team from the age of six, Stephanie set her sights on winning the Garryowen, one of the most difficult and prestigious equestrian competitions in Australia, from a very young age. In 2011, Stephanie’s dream of winning the Garryowen came true and she has placed second twice and fifth in consecutive attempts. Stephanie is still heavily involved in the equestrian world, competing, coaching and as an ambassador for the Portsea Polo & Kennedy Twilight Beach Polo, and is a big supporter of the VRC/Victoria Racing's life after racing program.

After completing her commerce degree at Monash University, Stephanie is a National Accounts Manager at Procter & Gamble and runs a successful blog, “Often people are forced to choose a lane and stick to it but I think it’s better to have a diverse range of interests and activities. Juggling three different worlds is hard work but keeps it fun and interesting!”

This is Emily

“When I was in Primary School I remember seeing an ad that said ‘come and try out Hockey’ so I thought I would give it a try.” It is in that moment that Emily’s love for Hockey began.

Having co-captained the Victorian Under 15 Hockey Team to victory at the Australian Championships in 2017, Emily has recently been selected in the Under 18 Victorian Hockey Team where she will be playing with and against much older girls. Her aim is to win another National Championship and one day make the Australian team.

While her focus in on Hockey, at school Emily plays a different sport each term. She is proud that so many of her classmates are heavily into sport as well. “I really feel that as girls, we can do whatever we want, whether it’s on the sporting field or in the classroom. I play sport because I love to run around and I enjoy being part of a team.”

This is Lily

Inspired by the school captains at her primary school, Lily has always wanted to be a leader herself and act as a role model for others.

As a member of Toorak College's Student Representative Council, a House Year Level representative and a Tute Leader, Lily leads with confidence and represents her peers with pride.

"I have this drive within me to be a leader. I am definitely a people person and love to listen and help others."

This is Catherine (TC 2001)

CatheringA Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at The University of Melbourne, Catherine’s love for sport and science guided her career path. “I was the Hamilton Captain in Year 12 and loved everything about House Sport. I was also part of the swimming team and rowing team and now, when I reflect on being a part of these teams, it was here I learnt valuable life lessons like teamwork and commitment.”

Catherine graduated as the DUX of her Physiotherapy Degree at The University of Melbourne before completing her PhD exploring the impact of exercise in lung cancer patients. Named the 2017 Victorian Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year, Catherine is a firm believer that science needs women and that women need science, especially at the leadership level. “Toorak’s culture instilled in me the belief that I could do anything and that being a woman makes no difference.”

Catherine now supervises a number of PhD and MPhil students and through her work with both patients and students; she enjoys extracting the very best out of people. The advice she gives her students is to “not be restricted in your thinking of what is possible. Aim as high as you can but then make sure you define a goal, do your research and set a plan.”

This is Claire

A ballerina all her life, Claire recently discovered a passion for K-pop and after seeing how much preparation goes into perfecting their performances, has set her sights on being a performer in Korea.

Claire believes that if you don't try, you won't succeed. "My dad told me that if I truly want to be a performer then I need to practise everyday, send in multiple auditions and be relentless in making my dream come true. My dad gives quality advice and encouragement for someone with such an ambitious dream so I sent audition tapes to a few companies in Korea and have just come back from auditioning for them in person."

This is Mia

After watching her brother debate, Mia was inspired to join the Toorak College debate team.

A regional finalist in the Legacy Public Speaking competition and named best speaker at numerous debate events throughout 2017, Mia believes preparation, practise and having confidence is the key to success.

"Debating makes me feel strong, empowered and exhilarated. This year, I will be the team's third speaker and that will be a new challeng. I will have to think on the spot and rebut the other team's arguments with reason and logic."

This is Amy

Amy loves maths, art, design and problem solving and wants to be an Engineer or Architect one day.

She knows that she will need to study hard to get into her preferred University course and that, as a female, it is likely she will surrounded by male engineers. "I'm confident that I'll be OK. My mum always says that a good education and working hard is the key, and that if you do that you can get to wherever you want to go."

This is Eloise (TC 1996)

“Since I can remember, my parents taught me that there is no substitute for hard work.” It was Eloise’s work ethic, combined with a love for literature and talent for public speaking, that led her to study Arts/Law at The University of Melbourne, where she received First Class Honours. “The idea of being a ‘lawyer’ had crossed my mind at school but it wasn’t until after University that I decided to pursue a career in Commercial Law.”

A Barrister at the Victorian Bar, Eloise previously practised as a Senior Associate at Allens and worked as an Associate for former Federal Court Justice Ray Finkelstein before pursuing studies overseas at Oxford University. Eloise considers joining the Bar as a pivotal decision in her career, and notes that the support of her friends and family was crucial during this time. “My advice to today’s Toorak students would be to study hard, have confidence in your ability and surround yourself with a network of supporters.”

Eloise was recently selected by Royal Commissioner and former High Court Judge Kenneth Hayne to be one of four Counsel Assisting in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. “It is a privilege to act as one of the Commission’s Assisting Counsel. The experience, whilst challenging, is one I will never forget.”

This is Jade

When Jade grows up she dreams of becoming a Vet and looking after sick animals.

"I love love to help animals because they are so sweet. But sweet as in cute... not sweet as in to eat!"

Jade says that she will have to work really hard at school to become a Vet and that she will practise looking after her pets at home every day so that she can be a good Vet.

This is Bridget

Dance has played a significant role in Bridget’s life since she begged her mum to sign her up to Ballet classes when she was eight years old.

During her time at Toorak College, Bridget has wowed the audience with her performances in various School Musicals and Dance Productions. “I love expressing myself through dance and sharing it with others. I think that it is important to never be afraid of showing others what you love to do.”

As the 2018 Dance Captain, Bridget is thrilled to see so many girls involved in the Dance and Aerobics program. “Earlier this month we participated in the School Aerobics and Dance Star regional championships. We had 19 routines compete and all of us made it through to the state finals!”

After school, Bridget plans to pursue a career in Interior Architecture but she knows dance will always play a significant role in her life. “It would be amazing to dance at Disneyland or be a Rockette in New York!”

This is Sharon (TC 1984)

At school, Sharon always favoured sports and science subjects, so studying Science at University was the perfect pathway for her. “I developed a real love for learning at school and especially enjoyed chemistry and physics.”

Sharon completed her PhD in Medicine at the University of Melbourne in 1993 before taking an Assistant Professorship at Pennsylvania State University where she focused on the development of therapies to combat kidney disease.

After marrying and having children, Sharon returned to Australia to run her own laboratory at Monash University. “As one of only a handful of women there was definitely more pressure to prove myself. I was lucky to have some great role models and mentors who encouraged me and empowered me to be myself. I remember getting strange looks and negative comments when I would bring my children into the lab but I won’t ever apologise for being a working mother or having a life outside the lab. There has been some great progress for women in science over the past decades but there is still some way to go and it is still a very competitive world.”

Today Sharon is a Professor and Research Group Leader at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. Her studies have been internationally recognised and she has been published in more than ninety medical journals.

A competitive figure body-builder and author of fitness articles in her spare time, Sharon is a strong believer in “healthy body, healthy mind” and volunteers her time to help mentor the next generation of female scientists. It is in her role as a mentor that she encourages everyone to be passionate about their career and to live a happy, healthy and balanced lifestyle.

This is Amelia

Amelia leads a group of 25 girls as the Head of the Alice Sloan Trust Committee. "I got involved with the Alice Sloan Trust in Year 10. Alice was an extraordinary girl and I wanted to ensure that she was remembered here at Toorak."

One of the initiatives that Amelia leads is the Breakfast Club at Frankston East Primary School. Each Friday two Toorak students serve up a nutritious breakfast to up to 20 students, ensuring that they get a healthy start to the day. "It is such a good cause and I really like helping other people and seeing people smile."

This is Ali

For as long as she can remember, Ali has loved to sing and perform. She loves to perform in musicals and dreams of becoming a professional actress. "Performing is something that I really love to do. Every time I get up on stage I feel nervous but happy at the same time. "

Ali played the lead role of Princess Fiona in Shrek, this year's Year 6 Production, and she is so grateful for every opportunity that comes her way. "Everyone has been so supportive of what I do and rehearsals have been lots of fun." Her advice to other performers is to "always try your best and just be you."

This is Sarah (TC 2014)

A former Deputy Head Girl, Sarah is passionate when it comes to Toorak College. “I brag about my school to everyone I meet, it was such an amazing environment to grow up in and I really believe Toorak shaped me into the person I am today.”

Sarah is also passionate when it comes to the world of film and television. From an early age, Sarah knew she wanted to work in television and she has been unapologetic in pursuing her dream. “At the end of Year 11 I was a finalist in a short film competition not realising my home movie would be going up against films made by graduating University students."

Following school, Sarah continued her studies and has worked as part of the production team on major television events including Carols in the Domain and the Good Friday Appeal where, as the Logistics Coordinator, it was Sarah’s job to “know where Kochie was at all times!”

With the help of the Toorak Collegian Grant Program, Sarah is currently working on the development of her own sitcom and is in the midst of filming and editing a proof of concept to pitch to the television networks. “If I had to give any advice it would be to just do the work. If you have an idea or a passion work hard at it and work smart with it and you will reap the rewards”.

This is Maddison

Maddison loves horses and is an avid horse rider. She loves riding with her older sister and wants to keep improving so that she is the best rider she can be.

Her dreams is to one day be in the Olympics. "I promise myself that I will work really hard and be the best rider I can be."

This is Bella

After enjoying her psychology elective in Year 9, Bella decided to study VCE psychology early. "It is probably the best decision I have made at school. I have found something that I really enjoy, that I love to do and that I want to continue in the future."

Wanting to broaden her psychology knowledge, Bella applied to study at Harvard as part of their Pre-College Program and will be heading to Massachusetts over the June/July school holidays! "The application process was pretty intense but my friends, family and teachers have been really supportive and are definitely helping me get to where I want to be."

This is Sophie (TC 2010)

At school, physics and maths came naturally to Sophie, so it was no surprise that she chose to study Aerospace Engineering at Monash University, graduating in 2015 with First Class Honours.

Now a Product Development Engineer at Ford Motor Company, Sophie has worked in a multitude of roles - from resolving cross-functional issues to providing engineering solutions that bring to life the vision of Ford’s creative designers. She played a part in the development of the all-new North American Ford Ranger and is currently working with prototype vehicles in durability testing for the upcoming Ranger Raptor. “I was drawn to engineering because of the practical application of science and mathematics principles to real-world problems. I get a great sense of accomplishment seeing the product I’ve worked on driving around the track.”

Working in a male-dominated industry doesn’t phase Sophie, and she reflects on that with her experience at Toorak College. “At an all-girls school, I didn’t really notice that I was doing so-called male-oriented sports or subjects. Toorak really encouraged us to give everything a go. I still play soccer weekly and before starting my career at Ford, I worked everywhere from local footy umpiring to computer stores and later at the St Kilda Football Club.”

Sophie’s advice for girls is to find what you love. “That may mean looking outside the box and taking the road less travelled but if you find something that interests you, give it a go.”