A past student who only graduated from Year 12 in 2002, and is already working as a criminal lawyer, was the guest speaker at Coolum High School’s 24th Annual Awards at the Coolum Civic Centre on Wednesday night.
Natasha Shorter, who is the first member of her family to progress past high school, inspired students and parents alike with her story of determination.
She reflected on the “endless hours of study” at high school, moving out of home at 17 to attend university in Brisbane, the struggle and self-doubt through her first semester and the many unsuccessful job applications and interviews after graduation.
Natasha completed a five-year double degree in law and criminology at Griffith University. She graduated in 2007 and went on to complete her practical legal training.
She was admitted in September 2008 and works for Quinn and Scattini Lawyers who have offices in Brisbane, Ipswich, Cleveland, Caboolture, Beenleigh and Southport.
“I am currently working as a criminal lawyer, which has exposed me to many challenges and highlights,” she said.
“I am in court on a daily basis and I absolutely love my job.
“I have aspirations to go to the bar in a few years time and obtain work as a criminal barrister.”
Natasha impressed on the students the importance of being persistent and resilient.
“The first few months were hard. I had lost everything that was familiar to me just to study law at uni,” she said.
“I missed my family and friends but what was more difficult was I didn’t understand any of the concepts in class and was really struggling with my study. I sat my first law exam and barely passed.”
Natasha said she then made a decision that if she wanted to be a lawyer she had to really work at it.
“I went to extra tutorials, started a study group and spent endless hours in the library reading text books.
“I can happily report that on my final exam I got 87%.”
But after she graduated, the young lawyer needed more of that persistence and resilience.
“I went to one particular interview where the partner of the firm told me that I was naïve to think that someone like me, with such minimal experience, was going to be offered a job in a criminal law firm.
“After that I applied for over 50 more jobs and went to an additional 20 interviews only to receive a ‘thanks but no thanks’ letter in the mail.”
Ultimately, after much persistence, Natasha was offered the job at Quinn and Scattini Lawyers and has not looked back.
She told the Coolum High students they had a choice to make.
“You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life,” she said. “You will inevitably make mistakes. Learn what you can and move on. At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.”
Natasha’s final comment had a particular resonance for local students.
“You may not be able to stop the waves but you can certainly learn to surf.”
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