Our Magnificent Alumni - Where Are They Now? Hannah Blyth
Former students have been making their mark all over the world. As a new feature in each edition of Currents we will spotlight a former student to showcase her achievements and possibly be of interest to current students who might need inspiration in determining their course beyond Riverside.
Our first alumnus is Hannah Blyth Riverside 2002 - 2007
- What have you been doing since graduating from Riverside GHS?
For the past 7 or so years, I’ve lived in Washington D.C. I originally did an internship working with a U.S. member of Congress and it was such a brilliant experience it made me want to move back and work in international development. So since then, I’ve been working on conflict, peacebuilding and private sector development, spending a lot of my time in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- What led you to choose the career path you did?
You never know where life is going to take you. After doing a communications degree at UTS and working for a few years in the private sector, consulting and state government, I did my masters at night and that really got me passionate about international development. So from there I worked hard to try and build a career in that.
- What were the most important decisions you made along the way?
It’s so important to go after what your passionate about – and be bold. Leaving my job in Australia to live solo without a permanent job and a few savings in the U.S. was a big decision, but easily the best one I ever made. When I had the opportunity to go and live in Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, I seized it and my life was all the richer for the experience of the amazing people I met, work I got to do, and lifelong friends and colleagues I made.
- What personal traits contributed to your success?
I think there is always going to be an element of luck to how things fall into place at the right time. But honestly it comes down to hard work and being passionate about what you do. Australians have a great work ethic and take initiative – and I think a lot of it I learned at Riverside from our teachers.
- Can you share some of the highs and lows you encountered on you career path?
I spent a number of years working in Ghana, travelling with our partners all around the country speaking and training local communities on how to address conflict issues in the mining sector. Ghanaians are very much like Australians in many ways, they are so warm and friendly, quick to laugh and appreciate life. That was such a privilege to meet so many people – especially women with such resilience. I met one group of women in the remote area north of the country, where there was no school for them to send their girls. So you know what they did? They created a co-op farm and began to raise money to build a school building. Even though many of them never went to school, now all their daughters and granddaughters have an education. It was just such a beautiful and inspiring moment. You also realize just how lucky we are in Australia to have the ability to go to school, go to Uni and get an education.
- What advice would you give to a student considering a career in your field?
Work out what you’re passionate about. Everyone has this notion of ‘international development’ as a career, but there are so many different paths. So think about whether you want to be involved in policy or advocacy related things, or project implementation and field work, and what issues you are most interested in (whether that’s nuclear non-proliferation, human rights, peace-building, disaster response, poverty reduction, political affairs... the world is your oyster!). Then work hard to further your education in that area, but most importantly find ways to get work experience. Show loyalty, hard work and passion in whatever you do, and you will find people willing to support you in your career. I’ve had some amazing managers, mentors and teachers over the years and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
Our sincere thanks to Hannah for sharing her post Riverside life with us and congratulations on her achievements to date and best wishes for the brightest of futures.