Earlier this month, Grammarian Rosie Schweizer (2018) returned to the Senior School to speak at assembly. Having spent her entire education at Canberra Girls Grammar School (from ELC to Year 12), Rosie is now based in the United States after being awarded a Basketball scholarship.
It is apt that we publish Rosie’s speech in today’s edition of the eNews. As a passionate Humanities student, Rosie’s words exemplify how her studies have prepared her for the wider world – beyond CGGS classrooms and the basketball court.
Good morning everyone, it’s great to be back here today.
I wanted to start today with a saying that has served me well, helped me ‘survive’ school; “You only know how to get up after you have been knocked down.” As such I like to view myself as always ‘under construction’. I have had to work hard building on both my achievements and failures, but eventually I reached a goal and became proud of what I built.
When I graduated last year I finished building, be it temporarily, as this year I started building again, first moving to the other side of the world, then starting university and a highly competitive sports program, all within a week.
Throughout my fourteen years at Girls Grammar, and my time overseas, I have faced many challenges that knocked me down, but I always got back up because I had passions that I never wanted to give up on that extended far beyond the sporting field. In the classroom these included Social Studies, History and Biology and in the wider world - including Politics, the Environment and Geography.
Had I not stayed strong when I was bullied, continued to raise my hand even after I had got an answer wrong or held my head up high after missing the game winning shot - let alone pushed myself to the limit while training, studying, hanging with friends and finding time to sleep - I would not have become who I am today, or have been able to forge my own story.
I always understood that success wouldn’t just find me; I would have to search for it. I know that by accepting the challenge of studying and playing basketball at a great university in the United States, I am on a path towards success that began right where all of you are today.
Mr Milligan asked me to speak about my decision-making process, in choosing where I would study. My years at Girls Grammar helped shape my decision as I wanted to attend a university that had qualities that set it aside from the rest, yes it needed great athletes and coaches, and excellent academic standards, but most significantly, I wanted to go to a place with good people, a place I could call home for five years.
I like to say that I was lucky to receive several basketball scholarship offers from a number of universities, but when I think about it, it wasn’t really luck. I consistently pushed myself to be better both in the classroom and on the court. And as Thomas Jefferson said, “The harder you work, the more luck you seem to have.”
After a process of elimination based on location, research about the university, the climate and my study interests I was able to narrow my choice down to two schools - George Washington University in Washington DC and George Mason University, in Fairfax Virginia - about 45 minutes from DC. These universities are archrivals, dating back to their namesakes, who didn’t like each other either. However, deciding between these two schools proved particularly difficult.
Both schools had:
- High academic standards
- Great academic programs in Politics and Government
- Internships and mentorship opportunities in DC
- Well established and well-funded basketball programs
- A climate very similar to Canberra (apart from the snow, but who doesn’t love snow, although after two months at the start of this year I began to think maybe I didn’t love it quite that much...)
Of the two schools, statistically George Washington University is better over a number of academic programs, is more renowned for its alumni, and in basketball won the last three ‘Atlantic 10 Conference’ finals, - the competition both universities play in. On paper it seemed like an easy decision, but statistics can’t give you the whole story – sometimes you need to see things for yourself.
In making my decision I was swayed towards George Mason University when two of the coaches came to Australia for three days - just to meet me. Then when I visited both universities a few weeks later on a flying visit (two and half days at each one), I was able to make my final decision. In the end I choose George Mason over George Washington because I felt a greater connection to George Mason because of the people, the coaches and staff and, most importantly, my future teammates.
They helped me see that I would not only belong to a university but also to a community, and to a team that would also be a form of family. With both universities having good reputations, I knew I would work and play better if I was also happy. After spending six months at George Mason, I am sure I made the right decision. Plus, who wouldn’t want to wear green for five more years?!
While receiving a full scholarship will provide me with many opportunities, it has now become my responsibility to make sure I capitalise on them. Currently I am a full-time ‘student athlete’. I am doing an accelerated Masters degree in International Politics and Government, with a double minor in Securities studies and Climate and Environment Policy. I know that I am more than an athlete; I have to keep passing with good grades, to retain the scholarship – just focusing on basketball and playing well will not be enough!
I would like to leave you all with something to think about, something that helped me along the way, three terms you might find useful: Find a passion, Have a dream and Find a way.
Having a passion, no matter what it might be, can help you grow your involvement in the school and wider community, shape you as a global citizen and help you identity and focus your goals and aspirations for the future. It might be that you care about the environment, animals and refugees, or have a passion for sport, music or technology.
Become active in understanding and campaigning for your issue, raising awareness for a cause or training and practicing hard to build your skills. Becoming a global citizen will allow you to understand cultures, histories, beliefs and viewpoints that may be different to your own, which in shaping your understanding and your future path will serve you and also those around you.
Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “A dream does not become reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Your future path, whatever it might be, may be hard, but should be fulfilling, perhaps exciting and hopefully challenging. Everyone always tells you to ‘dream big’. Yes, dream big, but remember behind every great dream, is someone willing to sacrifice sleeping-in and willing to push themselves to achieve it.
I have been lucky enough to see a number of politicians and global influencers speak or attend events at my university, which has provided me with new perspectives. One thing most of these leaders like to re-iterate is that the young and educated are the future. Another thing we are seemingly constantly reminded of, but what we often forget is, is that tomorrow is the future.
An education only gets you so far. You are lucky to be receiving a brilliant one so why wait, why not create, innovate, inspire or motivate right now? We are young, educated and highly capable women, we are not only students, but also role models to those who come after us.
So leave a mark, as being ‘under construction’ means every goal you reach reminds you that nothing is impossible, especially as this school constantly reminded me, and I hope reminds you, To the young, anything is possible.
Class of 2018
Photo above: Rosie helping coach a CGGS Basketball team during a recent visit to Canberra.