Journalist and Music Teacher, Sue Turpie, is currently editor of the Bendigo Magazine. She spoke to Alumni News about her time at BSSC and how it shaped her future.
What did you do after leaving BSSC?
I was working at McDonalds in Kangaroo Flat while doing my VCE. When I finished Year 12 I was ready to have a break from study so I continued working at Maccas for another four months before securing a hospitality traineeship at the Golden Vine Hotel.
It was a great place to work and I learned a lot about customer service and people in general. We were a huge music venue and had some great bands play there; the Whitlams when they were just starting out, the Waifs, Things of Stone and Wood.
I soon got itchy feet though and moved to Melbourne to work at the Le Meridien Hotel. Living in Melbourne and working in hospitality was an eye opener. After a year in the city I started an Arts degree at La Trobe University with the view of majoring in photojournalism. Halfway through my degree I was fortunate enough to be employed as a cadet journalist at the Bendigo Advertiser.
It was hard, but I was lucky to work alongside some amazing writers. I moved through the different rounds including education, sport and features, before moving onto the sub-editors’ desk.
On a whim I travelled to Queensland with a friend and ended up at the Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette. I also travelled to the UK a couple of times, working in various jobs and spending some time with a couple of different Melbourne publications, and the Bendigo Weekly newspaper.
When my son came along I decided I needed a job that worked with school hours and was more flexible. I had gone back to do my piano grades and ended up teaching piano privately for about five years.
I needed a new project and started a degree in behavioural studies (psychology). I took my son over to the UK for 10 months while juggling online subjects, and now have been lucky enough to be back in Bendigo working at the Bendigo Magazine.
What are you doing now?
Working as editor of Bendigo Magazine has been another amazing experience. I still teach piano to a few private students, and volunteer for the Bendigo Family Nature Club and Merry Music Group. I love being involved in various projects to keep life interesting. I have spent a lot of time travelling and moving around, but am quite settled in Bendigo, back with family and friends.
Tell us a couple of your most vivid memories of your time at the college.
I studied photography in Year 11 and it was back in the days before digital media. My fondest memories are being at the college at 7 am, alone in the darkroom, working on my assignments. It was usually freezing cold, so I had thermometers in the chemicals and had to top up the bath of warm water to keep them constant so it wouldn’t affect the development of the photos. It was smelly and tiring, but great fun.
Is there a particular teacher who had an influence on your future direction?
My English teacher was Amanda Hubber. She was a tough marker and I felt she pushed me to work harder. I don’t know whether she directly influenced my career choice as I was already interested in working in the media, but I loved English as a subject.
I also studied psychology in Year 12 and found it fascinating. My teacher (it’s terrible that I can’t remember her name) was always enthusiastic and really supportive and helpful when it came to assignments. She had a member of Victoria Police come in and talk about perception and responding to stressful situations. You can tell the teachers who want their students to do well and learn. She was one of them.
Do you feel that BSSC contributed to the person you are now?
Absolutely, especially given you go there at a time when you’re moving into adulthood. You’re given room to make decisions and learn to stand on your own feet which was a great stepping stone to life outside of school. In the real world you get out of life what you put in and this was something I learned at BSSC. I loved my time at the college. I made great friends and felt I came into my own there. You have to learn to take responsibility for your learning, although you’re given a lot of support from teachers if you ask for it.
Based on your own experience of life beyond school, what piece of advice would you offer students doing their VCE?
Be prepared to work hard but always remember to take time out. My marks might not have been as good as others, but I put a lot of effort into my part-time work which was a major contributor to my finding employment after Year 12. Don’t be hard on yourself, but if you’re not willing to put in the effort you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.