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Francesca Paterson

Medical Student and Elite Athlete

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Fran Paterson graduated from Stuartholme School in 2006 and is currently studying a dual degree in Science and Medicine at the University of Queensland. She is also a professional athlete and has represented Australia in rowing.

Read Francesca’s Transcript


How do you manage to juggle both careers?

At the moment I have taken a little bit of a break from rowing for the last 12 months to focus on my study a little bit more. Up until then I was doing both medicine and rowing at the same time for quite a while, and just loved having a balance and being surrounded by very different groups of people who are both pretty passionate about what they are doing. Rowing is a sport that requires a lot of commitment and so does medicine. I have felt lucky that I got to do both; whereas a lot of people only get to do one thing at a time.

What were the highlights of your Stuartholme experience?

Everything about Stuartholme was memorable for me. I enjoyed school so much, and I often see the girls walking around in their uniforms and miss it, and wish I could come back. Some of the most memorable days at Stuartholme have been the Feast Days – Madeleine Sophie Day, we used to call it. It was a big celebration where everyone would come to School dressed in costume. It was a great day where the community celebrated and had a fantastic day together. Particularly we enjoyed the fact that the teachers and the staff got involved, and they seemed to be enjoying it just as much as the girls, which I think we all really liked to see, them getting involved and having fun with us.

Has Stuartholme School prepared you for your career?

There are a number of things that I did while I was at school which have really helped me since. In particular the Stuartholme rowing program that I was very involved in set me up for the many years of rowing that I have done since then. The rowing community at Stuartholme is one of the most supportive environments that I was in during my time at school. It taught me to love the sport that I have been able to do ever since. It taught me the value of hard work, determination and team work. That has really carried through in what I have done in the sport since. I was able to carry that love of the sport on. I think if you are not enjoying something you are very unlikely to continue doing it for a long time. I developed my love for the sport at school and was able to keep going with it. Academically, I was very involved in the Science side of school, particularly in Year 11 and 12. I did a lot of maths and science which prepared me really well for the career that I was coming into and the study that I was doing after school.

What do you think makes Stuartholme special?

There are so many different reasons, but for me it was the community and the environment that you learn in up here. It is so unique and so welcoming, and I think it is a great environment for any type of girl to enjoy. Not just necessarily high achievers, or girls who are high achievers in the academic sense or the sporting sense. It is a school where every single girl is valued, and I think that is very important. It is an environment where everyone can achieve, and that is what I love about it.

How do you stay connected to Stuartholme now?

Since I left Stuartholme I have managed to stay reasonably well-connected to the School, particularly through the sport of rowing. I’ve spent a number of years coaching rowing since I left and I have been involved in a range of different crews and different age groups. I have managed to come back and spend a lot of time with the girls in the rowing program since, and encouraged them and allow them to see that you can go on from Stuartholme rowing and achieve at a high level in the sport. I have really enjoyed seeing them develop and being involved in the program since I left.

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