In The Age (Saturday 30 April 2022), Alumnae Dr Sophie Tissot (2006) shared why she believes that the courage she developed at Lauriston has helped her succeed in her career. 

Courage has been defined in many ways, but perhaps one of the clearest was given by Martin Luther King Jr: “Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.”

At Lauriston Girls’ School, students are encouraged to be courageous from kindergarten onwards with learning challenges and sports competitions, and through opportunities to take risks, challenge opinions and make mistakes. Dr Sophie Tissot, urology registrar at Ballarat Health, graduated from Lauriston Girls’ School in 2006 and credits the school with giving her the courage to believe that she could achieve whatever she wanted in life if she was passionate and worked hard.

“The school develops in you the framework to be courageous,” she says. “It teaches students to be confident and competent and to believe in themselves. The idea of having the courage to do what is right is a subliminal message that is around all the time at Lauriston. It creates an environment that doesn’t allow self-doubt.

“I am constantly amazed at what my school friends have achieved and what they are doing.”

Lauriston girls spend year 9 at the school’s Howqua campus in the Victorian high country. Free of mobile phones, laptops and internet and with correspondence by letter only, the girls focus on an extensive outdoor, academic and pastoral program.

“The time at Howqua is very physical with hikes and outdoor activities every weekend, camping, canoeing, cross-country skiing,” Tissot says.

The girls are physically and mentally challenged by solo activities, such as a solitary overnight camp, and by a range of team activities.

“When a girl can successfully complete a six day hike, manage changing weather conditions or support her peers during canoeing, then she becomes aware of her own strength and bravery. This level of personal understanding of one’s capabilities and character can be used in every aspect of life,” says Susan Just, Principal of Lauriston Girls’ School.

Tissot says women working in male dominated fields need courage to face the particular challenges this can bring. “I think women all have a bit of imposter syndrome. If you are working in a primarily male profession, you have to find a bit of extra inner self-confidence, otherwise you begin to doubt your abilities, even though you may be as skilled as everyone else.”

Courage is not always expressed in stereotypical ways. Tissot believes it is important for women to find the courage to take care of themselves in a busy life. “There are so many pressures and stresses. It’s very easy to ignore these things and just power forward. It takes strength to say ‘no’ and step away.”