OLA Fellowship 2021

“To engage, connect and provide relevant support to our alumnae and students, to foster a lasting and meaningful relationship with the Lauriston community for life.”

In June 2021 the Old Lauristonians’ Association proudly launched a new Fellowship program to celebrate and support the professional development of past Lauriston students.

The Fellowship provides a $5,000 contribution to support an Old Lauristonian so that she can undertake professional development, research, or further study in her chosen field, or enable her to deliver a unique project.

Applications for the 2021 OLA Fellowship closed on 31st August, with the successful candidate advised on 30th September 2021.

The OLA received a number of applications and were delighted to short-list applications from 3 candidates: Sophie Tissot (2006), Krisha Changrani (2014) and Kathryn Elliott (1990).  All three applicants are outstanding examples to the current student body and Old Lauristonians across the world, of what can be achieved through hard work, determination, perseverance, a strong sense of community spirit and connection.

A selection panel, consisting of members of the OLA Committee and a representative from the School Executive, reviewed all applications in line with Fellowship selection criteria and then interviewed selected candidates before unanimously awarding the inaugural OLA Fellowship to Dr Sophie Tissot (2006).

Sophie Tissot (2006)

Sophie Tissot (nee Riddell) is a Urology Surgical Trainee and Robotics Fellow at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.  Sophie completed her medical degree at the University of Adelaide after which she returned to Melbourne to work at St Vincent’s Hospital. In her pre-surgical training years, she completed a Master of Surgery (University of Sydney), became the inaugural Chief Surgical Resident of St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (2017-2018) and gained a position on the Urology Society of Australia and New Zealand surgical training program which she commenced in 2019.

Sophie is a latin dancer and passionate volunteer surf life saver. As Club Captain of Portsea Surf Life Saving Club (2014 – 2017) Sophie was awarded a Life Membership for her contribution to the organisation.

Sophie is currently involved in a project which is a validation study of hydrogel anatomical models to train doctors in robotic surgery.  There has been a recent uptake of robotic surgery in favour of open or laparoscopic methods which has resulted in an all-time high demand for robotic surgical training. Surgical trainees like Sophie only work within the public system which limits the accessibility to robotic training, but with the OLA Fellowship funding, Sophie will now have access to robotic surgical training through the Australian Medical Robotics Academy (AMRA). The financial support from the OLA fellowship, will allow Sophie to be the first novice surgeon in Australia to complete hydrogel prostatectomy model training through AMRA, under the supervision of Professor Tony Costello AM, CEO of AMRA.

AMRA’s objective is to change the current approach to teaching robotic surgery, to reduce the overall surgical complication rates that currently sit at 17% at 30 days postoperatively.  Sophie and her colleagues believe that virtual simulation and then operating, repetitively, on life-like hydrogel models is a safer, more efficient, and more ethical way to teach robotics.

As a woman in a male-dominated field, there is often intrinsic doubts about one’s skills and preparedness to undertake roles in the medical industry.  Sophie continues to build her skills and experience by seeking non-traditional educational techniques, which she strongly believes are the way of the future.

The OLA is proud to award the inaugural OLA Fellowship to Sophie and is thrilled to provide the support she needs to further her medical training.

Krisha Changrani (2014)

Krisha Changrani has finished her medical degree and will be completing her internship at The Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2022.  Krisha plans to pursue a career in general practice, with a special interest in child and adolescent health. Krisha will soon be completing the Sydney Child Health Program, an internationally recognised professional development program of study in paediatrics to be completed over the next year. 

The Sydney Child Health Program provides recognised training experience for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioner trainees, which will help accelerate her journey to becoming a qualified GP.

Krisha is a believer that in a COVID-19 world, health awareness is key and completing this program will enable her to deliver evidence-based and up to date health information to our youth.

In addition to her medical studies Krisha has played a key role in establishing the not-for-profit organisation ASHA Lectures, with funds raised going towards the ASHA Charity, which is also known as Australian South-Asian Healthcare Association.  Her involvement has included the development of a program called ‘Bodyworks’ which delivers health promotion workshops to primary school students. 

Krisha hopes that she can continue reaching out to other Lauriston alumnae in the medical field, as well as work with both Lauriston students and recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

The OLA wishes Krisha all the very best in her future endeavours.

Kathryn Elliott (1990)

Kathryn Elliott used her traumatic experience with breast cancer in 2019 as the inspiration to make positive changes in her life and start her new business, My Breast Friend.

Kathryn is passionate about generating more awareness around the importance of developing a regular breast self-check routine in young women’s lives. They are their own best breast advocates, and Kathryn is passionate about incorporating breast checks into each woman’s regular weekly routine.

In August 2019 Kathryn left her corporate PR role to pursue her passion project, ‘My Breast Friend’, a range of self-care products that encourage women to connect with their bodies and conduct regular self-checks. The products are currently in production and will be available for sale online in October to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Kathryn has formed a partnership with Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) and will be donating $2 from each sale to BCNA. 

Kathryn is determined to add more products to the range for the breast cancer community, including developing a self-check education video, specific products for chemo and radiation therapies and pursuing opportunities to secure retail stockists for the range.  For more information about the products, you can go to Kathryn’s website www.mybreastfriend.net and follow her Instagram account www.instragram.com/mybreastfriendau/.

In addition to starting My Breast Friend, Kathryn has recently launched an alcohol coaching business and dedicates time each month to the cancer community as a trained peer-to-peer support volunteer. Kathryn has also agreed to become the official ambassador for the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day at Lauriston Girls’ School.

The work Kathryn has done in her community to support others diagnosed with breast cancer together with her new business shows her heart, her passion, and her determination to make her community a better place.

Acknowledging our generous supporters

The OLA Fellowship Committee was delighted to be involved in the process of awarding the Fellowship.

“It was an honour to be part of the OLA Fellowship committee for 2021. Not only did we receive a variety of exceptional applications, but we were also struck by the extraordinary talent and real contribution these women make to their communities. All 2021 Fellowship applicants have continued to make a real difference to the lives of many beyond the Huntingtower gates. As old girls ourselves, they make us all so proud.”

Applications for the OLA Fellowship 2022 will open in June 2022.  We encourage all Old Lauristonians world-wide to apply for the Fellowship.

To explore the OLA Fellowship 2022 opportunity, please visit https://ola.org.au/#olafellowship.