Year 11 student Darcie Andrea recently took part in the Ultimate Open Day Experience at the ADFA in Canberra, then shared her experience with the Bendigo Advertiser.

BENDIGO Senior Secondary College student Darcie Andrea was over the moon when she was announced as one of three winners of a national competition to spend a weekend at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. The 16 year-old has agreed to share her experiences as part of the Ultimate ADFA Open Day Experience with Bendigo Advertiser readers.

BEFORE attending the Ultimate Open Day Experience at the ADFA in Canberra, I was fairly certain a career in the Defence Force was for me.

Now I know there is no other study and career combination I could be more passionate about.

This jam-packed two day experience, was by far the most spectacular and exciting opportunity I have ever had. The amount of information I absorbed and passion I developed drives me even more to reach my goals.

Winning an ultimate open day experience was the furthest thing from my mind when, during one day of the term two school holidays, I was browsing for Facebook updates on the ‘Defence Jobs Australia’ and ‘Australian Defence Force Academy’ pages.

It just so happened that I came across the post promoting the Ultimate Open Day Experience at ADFA.

I read about the various activities provided and I thought was a wonderful opportunity.

I quickly applied, with the intention of simply giving it a go.

The process to enter was simple, enter your name, birth date and in 50 words or less, why you should be one of the winners of this extraordinary competition.

My answer: “I’m an extremely dedicated person, who consistently strives to reach my full potential. I like to challenge myself, whilst always maintain my integrity, values that ADFA encourages and strengthens. It truly would be an honour to join the Australian Defence Force and for me ADFA is the first step.”

With over a thousand entries received I was overwhelmed with ecstasy and partly in shock when I received confirmation I was one of three winners from across Australia.

Having a dream of attending ADFA and then continuing on to a career in the Defence Force, this opportunity was literally a dream come true.

My aspirations for the Defence Force include completing year 12 and the following year attending ADFA, and upon completion of my degree, enlisting in the army and continuing on to the Royal Military College (RMC).

I aspire to complete an arts degree, the specific specialisations  I have not yet decided upon, although being able to choose from business, English literature, Indonesian language and culture, geography, history, as well as international and political Studies, I’m confident I will find a degree perfect for me.

Having won the competition, I arrived in Canberra early Friday morning and went straight to ADFA, where myself and the two other winners – both from far north Queensland – met the public relations people involved in organising the experience.

We also met two officer cadets and a midshipman who are currently attending ADFA.

These three people were with us the whole time we were at ADFA.

This was an incredible opportunity to have one on one time with personal, who have first-hand experience in the Defence Force and at ADFA.

I felt truly privileged to be able to discuss life at ADFA, life in the Defence Force and have one on one time with such sophisticated people, all of whom I admire immensely.

On day one, we were able to attend the Weapons Training Shooting Simulation System, were we fired a total of 46 rounds from an F-88 rifle.

Our personnel, showed us through the correct procedure of picking the gun up and the accurate place to hold the gun while in the firing position.

Moving on from here we attempted to complete an above pool obstacle course at ADFA, which was one of the toughest activities I’ve ever done.

We remained fully clothed (in camouflage pants, a rugby jumper and shoes) and swam the length of the pool. Once this was completed we launched into the obstacle course, which consisted of rope ladders, dangling cones, planks and many other tough obstacles, which all require immense full body strength as well as mental strength.

Once we freshened up we travelled to Lake Burley Griffin where we had an incredible rapid inflatable boat (RIB) ride.

Heading back to ADFA, we had a tour around the outside and of the Parade Ground and sports fields. Near the completion of day one we were able to sit in the Black Hawk and speak one on one with one of the pilots.

On day two ADFA was open to the public for the annual open day, to showcase the wonderful opportunities ADFA provides and the experiences available in the Defence Force.

This included watching a presentation from the Precision Drill Team, a demonstration of an infantry attack and an example of an outdoor battle physical training exercise.

There was also a RAAF military working dogs display and a rugby match between different clubs within ADFA, abseiling, taekwondo and a fencing demonstration, while the ADFA marching band showcased their talents throughout the day.

We also saw the Red Berets Parachute Team land on the Parade Ground and watched an aerial display by the Roulettes.

In addition to experiencing the amazing presentations ADFA had on show, as winners we were able to meet members of the Infantry Attack, Red Berets Parachute Team and Roulettes Aerial Team.

These teams are full of dedicated and talented people, who all take great pride in their roles and duty.

We had the incredible opportunity to have lunch with the Commandant of ADFA and a portion of perspective candidates who intend to attend ADFA in 2016.

I feel truly honored to have been a part of this experience and feel more confident than ever that this is the study and career path for me.

I’m so grateful to be able to share my experiences and would recommend anyone considering a similar career path to consider the ADFA open day.