Pillars of Strength

Almost four months ago now I left Australia for an amazing adventure full of wonderful learning at Harvard. I was able to do this, in no small part, because the women in my family have done so before. We are a family of great adventurers.

My Nana Bennett left her home in Scotland on a 'nursing' holiday that would end with a life of love and family in Melbourne. My Nana Barnett never really left her home town of Myrtleford, Victoria, but she embarked on a life of great learning. As a teenager she boarded at Fintona Girls School and then went onto pharmacy college, when most women's careers were limited to teaching, typing and nursing. At college she met my grandfather and they returned to Myrtleford to run the Barnett Pharmacy for close to forty years. She raised four children whilst working full-time when the phrase "career women" was shameful and the concept of work-life balance unheard of. She was still working full-time when I was small and I remember her shop and her now old-fashioned white coat and pharmacists name-tag. I also remember that there were always Anzac Biscuits in the tin and she was never, ever too tired to read me a bed-time story. In the last few weeks she had been living in Melbourne, with my parents and had been passing her love of learning and books onto yet another generation - my nephew, Rowan.

These two strong women were the matriarchs of their families. Their love of learning and pursuing adventures away from home allowed me to dream of Harvard. For that, I am eternally grateful.

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