#ALWAYSAMATERGIRL – Pippa Criss-Chisholm (2016)



Pippa Criss-Chisholm’s story echos beautifully, the iconic Ernest Hemmingway quote: ‘It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end’.

Pippa is true to herself and recognises her own strengths and limitations. Her love of music, performing arts, gaming, technology, and libraries have been interwoven in her life so far, and remain part of her current endeavours, and future plans.

When Pippa started at Mater Christi in Year 7, she had a passion for music and the arts and was keen to learn as much as she could.  Throughout her time at the College, she immersed herself in the performing arts and took subjects she loved. She was part of many school productions and showcases, which brought her much joy.

In Year 9, Pippa began to experience some mental health issues and found the academic side of school challenging. Her struggles continued throughout her schooling, but she continued to show up, find joy in the things she loved, and she finished school a stronger person.

“Overall, my time at Mater Christi was incredibly formative. The onset of depression and anxiety during secondary school meant it was hard for me to get the grades expected of me. However, at school I found wonderful people and opportunities that helped me through.”

Pippa says her teachers provided her with incredible support and encouragement. The Music Room – where she spent many hours rehearsing and playing for the school Orchestra - was like her second home. She also enjoyed the welcoming space of the Learning Commons, which enabled her to research and develop her many interests.

“The Makerspace initiative, where students can explore technology and creative endeavours, was the coolest thing. The Librarians were so welcoming and helpful. It was a place where I could explore my ideas and passions.”

As she moved into Senior School, Pippa’s English teacher, Ms Owen helped her to understand what made English such an amazing subject. And Mr Kadar, her History & Extended Investigation teacher, encouraged and nurtured her curiosity and interests.

“I attribute my ability to keep going, when everything felt so bleak, to these teachers. They showed me that my thoughts, interests and passions were important and to follow what I love."

After completing Year 12, Pippa kept her foot in the Performing Arts through community theatre. She also enrolled in a Degree in Games and Interactivity, majoring in Literature and Creative Writing, which tapped into her love of gaming and storytelling. Through this she hoped to become a writer for computer games.

However, in a twist that surprised even her, after 5 years of study Pippa realised the gaming industry wasn’t right for her.

“This discovery threw me for a loop. I loved the process of learning the theory and ideas behind video games. However, I knew the industry would be a challenging one, and it wasn’t the right fit for me personally.”

Alongside her tertiary studies, Pippa had become involved in the 1812 Theatre, in Upper Ferntree Gully. There she was cast in The Crucible as Betty Paris and was nominated for a Lyrebird Award. Since then, she has written, directed, and stage managed for many shows.

All of Pippa’s experiences, at Mater Christi and since, have led her to the recent revelation that she would like to become a secondary school Librarian.

She plans to enrol in a Master of Education in Teacher Librarianship, so she can work in school libraries, supporting students, and running Makerspaces and book groups.

“I want to provide a place where students can explore their interests in an informal setting, help them find the information they need, and provide what my librarians did for me; a place of exploration, discovery and encouragement.”

In the meantime, Pippa is currently working with the City of Melbourne Library Service Makerspaces - helping people learn to use various technologies, which she absolutely loves.

“My life has been challenging at times. I struggle with focus and memory. But I am also creative, persistent and strong. I believe it's important to embrace both the strengths and challenges in your personality, as they are what makes you, you!

You don’t have to be the smartest, fastest or best. While those who are, should certainly be celebrated, so too should those who show up, try and persevere.”

Indeed, success comes in many forms and Pippa’s is truly a story of success!

Where are you now? Share your alumnae story with us.

We know there are many great stories to share. Send a photo and 150-200 words about studies, interests, career, adventures... to mcc@materchristi.edu.au OR forward this invitation to Mater Christi Alumna