Tahlia proves where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Outstanding Graduate award winner Tahlia didn’t let a disappointing ATAR stand in her way.
Outstanding Graduate award winner Tahlia didn’t let a disappointing ATAR stand in her way.

When Tahlia Skordas’ HSC results didn’t go as planned, she wasn’t sure what to do next. A gap year helped her to regroup and explore her options. She says, “I remember going to the UTS Open Day with some friends at the beginning of that year. I was just tagging along, but I loved it right away. I loved the feeling of community. It was very welcoming. It felt almost natural for me to be there – like home. Then, by the middle of the year I had decided, ‘Okay, I want to do medicine,’” she says. “I knew I didn’t have the ATAR, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I was looking through the UTS handbook – the pathway courses section – when I found out about UTS College. I’d never heard of it before, and I scoured through the website because I could see it was just what I needed.”

Finding her path
When she discovered there was a Life Sciences stream in the UTS College Diploma of Science, she knew she’d found her path. “I literally applied straight away,” she says. She started her diploma course in October of 2020. “Doing the Life Sciences stream at UTS College gives me the foundation to go on to undergrad pre-medicine, and then postgraduate medicine,” she says.

Tahlia has always loved science. “Even as a kid. I remember it started with astronomy – I had a bunch of astronomy books, and then as I got into primary school I just loved the science class we did every week. In high school I did physics and chemistry and I really loved it. I knew I wanted to do something in science for my career,” she says. “I like that there’s a right or wrong with science. It’s black and white and I like that. I also love being challenged – problem-solving and all that. Every aspect of science is fascinating to me, whether it’s biology or chemistry, it’s all super interesting.”

Developing valuable study skills
Her passion for science was already firmly in place, but Tahlia needed help with study skills. She says, “I feel like in high school I wasn’t as motivated as I am now. UTS College has helped me develop time management skills and learn how to prepare for exams and presentations. I’ve always felt supported,” she says, “knowing I had Study Success Advisers and teachers encouraging me. I always felt that I could go to them for help, and they really went above and beyond to make sure we understood the content and were confident to carry out our assignments. Their support helped me get my GPA and graduate with the Outstanding Graduate Prize.”

Inspired by her Mum
Tahlia was thrilled to learn of her win, and she shared the good news with her mother right away. “Mum is a big inspiration to me,” she says. “She always perseveres, even in the toughest of times, and she’s been a great support to me. Sometimes I can focus too much on itty-bitty details, but Mum has taught me to step back and look at the bigger picture.”

The importance of helping others
Seeing medical professionals in action has also inspired Tahlia’s decision to pursue medicine. “Going to the GP, or a hospital and seeing all the doctors and nurses and the things they do. It’s just amazing to me – knowing how they help people. I want to be like that. I want to be able to help people,” she says. “Right now, we’re seeing how hospitals, GPs and pharmacists have worked during this pandemic – and all the people who’ve volunteered to help with vaccinations and tests. It’s a really important thing.”

Having successfully completed her diploma, Tahlia’s looking forward to studying on campus at UTS in 2022, when she's joining second year of Bachelor of Advanced Science, as a pre-medicine major. She says, “I’m beyond excited. I’ve been looking at my subjects and I’ve started planning what I’m going to do. I’m so ready.”

The HSC is not the be-all and end-all
She looks back on her experience at UTS College with pride. “I’ve learnt that where there’s a will, there’s a way. I remember after the HSC I thought, ‘I’ve done so badly, how can I ever get into medicine?’ But there are so many ways you can get to where you want to go. I think that’s something you need to be told in high school, because you’re constantly given this idea that the HSC is the be-all and end-all, and it’s really not true,’ she says. “I think I have the determination to get into med school after my undergrad degree. I know it’s a very competitive process, but I think with the skills and the mindset I’ve developed at UTS College, I can get to where I want to be.”