Seeing a perceived failure in a positive light can be easier said than done sometimes. Yet, Class of 2013 student Simone Cook’s journey to becoming an Embryologist is proof that everything happens for a reason, even when we can’t see it at the time.
Simone has always had high expectations of herself and says she struggled to accept when she didn’t get 100% on an assignment, particularly in the early years of secondary school.
In Year 9, when it became time to begin career planning, Simone decided she wanted to be an embryologist.
"I always had a keen interest in biological sciences but it was at this point that I discovered embryology and IVF sciences as a part of fertility treatment. The fact that they could inseminate an egg, grow it to an embryo and then transfer it back to form a pregnancy was so fascinating".
As she progressed through secondary school, Simone felt confident she was on the right track. She was accepted as a Kwong Lee Dow Scholar with Melbourne University in Year 11 (which gives selected students preference of place into their desired undergraduate course) and achieved a high ATAR at the end of Year 12.
Despite these achievements, Simone unexpectedly missed out on both her first and second preferences for university and felt the course she did get into (a Bachelor of Science at Monash University) wasn’t right for her.
“I was shattered! I felt like a complete failure. I was so against the Science Degree that I went straight into the university and asked how I would be able to transfer after the first six months”.
However, after learning more about the course structure and pathways, Simone soon discovered that Science at Monash was perfect for her.
“I loved it so much; I even became a Science Student Ambassador for two years of my undergraduate degree.”
Even so, Simone’s studies still didn’t go quite as planned when she was required to repeat two of her 3rd year subjects, adding another year onto her degree.
“Luckily for me, this extra year at university gave me the chance to excel in those subjects the second time around, and I was also chosen to go to Malaysia as a Science Student Ambassador for the university.”
Simone went on to complete a Graduate Diploma in Reproductive Science and a Master's in Clinical Embryology, moving a little closer to her dream.
In a final twist, after completing her studies, the global pandemic hit, and many IVF clinics were shut down, meaning there were very few jobs in the field. Consequently, an exciting job offer from the United States that had recently come through for Simone was withdrawn, and she found herself floundering again.
In October 2020, the stars finally aligned, and Simone was offered a position at Monash IVF on the Gold Coast, and she moved from Melbourne during lockdown.
Simone says this first position gave her invaluable experience in a busy environment and set her up for her current role, working solo and managing a rural IVF laboratory in Wagga Wagga, NSW.
“This move to Wagga Wagga certainly wasn’t in my 10-year plan. However, my past experiences have helped me to embrace the change, and I am achieving more than I ever thought I could here.”
As Simone continues her career journey in reproductive technologies, she is excited to see where the industry takes her next. Her advice to current Mater Christi students is to embrace any challenges or roadblocks that come their way, as they may, in fact, be a blessing in disguise.
“The biggest thing I have learnt is that everything happens for a reason, and there is always something to learn from unexpected changes to the plan you have mapped out in your head”.