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This was a memorable year as it was the same year she became a published author, and The Secret Stealer, a young adult fantasy novel, arrived in book stores. Jess says that receiving her first box of published books in the mail was possibly the most exciting moment of her life.
In 2010 Jess joined the navy as a postgraduate medical student. Four years later, after a year’s rural placement in Murwillumbah and a study stint in Vietnam, Jess graduated from med school. She found this period at university a very humbling experience where she grew to enjoy learning for learning’s sake and the opportunities it would afford her. Jess followed her degree with a two-year internship and residency in the Illawarra/Shoalhaven region and continued playing the viola with her quartet and the WIN Wollongong Symphony Orchestra.
In 2015 Jess’s full-time navy training began. Six months of officer training at HMAS Creswell brought with it field exercises (complete with pack marching and sleep deprivation), drill training, shooting an F88 Steyr, driving a jet RHIB around Jervis Bay, and training in survival at sea, leadership, lead-stop-and-repair, firefighting and plotting courses while navigating ship routes. Jess emerged from these months about 10kg lighter and with the Commodore Sir James Ramsay Prize for ‘best academic performance by an officer’.
Then came the medical courses required to be an effective doctor in the Navy – aviation medicine, underwater medicine, aeromedical evacuation. There were courses in Advanced Life Support and Early Management of Severe Trauma. And Jess hasn’t forgotten her Helicopter Underwater Escape Training which is exactly as it sounds. While this was all happening, she started her General Practice training in Nowra.
Once Jess was deemed deployable, new adventures opened up. She was the sole medical officer for a ship of about 190 people which did a trip to New Zealand, followed by a six-month deployment which included RIMPAC (multinational war-games exercises conducted around Hawaii), then Exercise KAKADU (around Darwin), and a South East Asia deployment (including Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam).
Currently, Jess is stationed in one place and is working as a GP trainee at HMAS Albatross health centre while continuing to complete other medical courses.
Jess believes that Illawarra Christian School gave her good grounding for her future career. She appreciated the small community, is grateful for the support of dedicated teachers, and values having had a faith-based education that underpins all of life.
Jess’s plan for now is to finish her GP exams and complete her ROSO (Return of Service Obligation) with the navy. She’s not sure what lies beyond that, but she would like to continue doing the things that bring her lots of joy – art, music and writing. And, conscious of God’s call to take care of the needy, Jess would like to do some aid work. With the drive, commitment and passion that we see in Jess, we have no doubt that she has many more dreams to live.
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Kevin enrolled in Medical Radiation Physics at Wollongong University (although he had always wanted to be a cartoonist). His undergraduate degree gave him grounding in types of radiation therapy used for treating cancer and, after enjoying exploration into new fields of knowledge during these studies, he decided to continue on with research as a PhD student. Kevin believed that being a Christian equipped with a PhD in physics might be helpful for whatever future ministry lay in his path.
Kevin’s PhD project involved research in prostate cancer. The project was a collaboration between St George Cancer Care Centre (Sydney), UOW Centre for Medical Radiation Physics, Czech Technical University (Prague), and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York). Halfway through the PhD, he was based in the Czech Republic for several months. Then in 2013, he obtained a three year research position at the Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics with Czech Technical University, and so he moved to Prague. The research involved using cutting edge radiation detection technology in brand new applications to improve the imaging and treatment of prostate cancer.
From 2013-2015 Kevin honed his skills as a researcher while also gaining invaluable experience presenting at international conferences (Brazil, New York, South Korea, Switzerland and Tennessee) and participating in workshops and seminars for high school and undergraduate students. He was published in several peer-reviewed journals, and his thesis was finalised and highly commended through UOW in 2016. Kevin was now a Doctor of Physics.
While doing all this, Kevin co-founded a start-up print media group which wrote, edited and designed their own boutique magazine, and gained a small but strong global following. Kevin really enjoyed exercising skills outside his primary vocation. He has also continued to indulge his English skills by freelance writing for various media outlets online including Genius.com and Spotify AU.
Back to physics! Kevin was awarded a post-doctorate research position at the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences. Now his research involves image analysis and cellular imaging. He works in Prague with medical imaging devices such as CT and MRI, and also with mice which have induced cancers.
As for the future? There’s no telling! The world is ever changing, and career paths are no longer as immutable as they once were. Kevin has always had an interest in developing a small business, and maybe his next venture will involve some sort of entrepreneurial pursuit.
Kevin is grateful for the Christian worldview that his education at Illawarra Christian School instilled in him. He looks fondly on the school as the place that nurtured his love for physics, and he remembers that his teachers cared for him on a personal, individual level.
Kevin reflects that his journey thus far hasn’t all been smooth sailing. There have been times of frustration, sleepless nights and countless hours spent reading and proofreading articles and papers. We’re proud of him for conquering the challenges, and we’re excited with him for the path that lies ahead.