Me & My Mentor: Melbourne Girls’ Grammar’s Rose Phan & Lamia Rockwell

Melbourne Girls' Grammar teacher Lamia Rockwell & student Rose Phan. Photo: Scott McNaughton

Melbourne Girls' Grammar teacher Lamia Rockwell & student Rose Phan. Photo: Scott McNaughton

As the director of senior years at Melbourne Girls’ Grammar, Lamia Rockwell encourages girls such as year 12 boarding student Rose Phan to grow into women of integrity and to have courage, compassion and self-discipline.

These are values students will take with them throughout their education and their later life. Through her mentoring, Lamia has discovered she has a lot in common with Rose.

Both were educated overseas before coming to Australian schools. Both first spoke languages other than English, and both have a great love of mathematics.

ROSE SAYS …

I came to Australia about two years ago, in year 10, from Vietnam. I’m boarding here. It has been a really interesting experience.

At home my parents never allowed me to have sleepovers and here I’m living with 89 girls and we have a massive dinner together every night and it reminds me so much of Harry Potter.

In the boarding house, you’re also never alone. You can be in your room but there’s always someone around who shares the same feelings of homesickness so you can always talk when you are feeling lonely.

One of the advantages of living in the boarding house is that you get to know lots of girls from all different year levels and backgrounds.

We also have a tutor to help with homework and we have a nice structure when you can ask for extra help.

I really enjoy chemistry and physics. I particularly like physics because it offers a more complex and different perspective into everyday life applications that we usually take for granted.

I also love mathematics, like Ms Rockwell.

Outside of school, I like playing the piano. However, I have shifted my interest to playing drums because it provides me with a more unique opportunity to meditate.

It’s one of the hobbies that I really enjoy and I’m willing to wake up early on Thursday mornings to attend lessons. It always cheers me up.

My goal is to become a biomedical engineer. I really want to learn more about the bionic ear and bionic eye and artificial organs – that’s what I’d like to specialise in.

My family really supports my decision to pursue this pathway and they have sacrificed a lot for me to be where I am right now. Even though my parents and I don’t talk much, we understand that we are always on the lookout for each other.

I believe Ms Rockwell and I reflect the diversity of Melbourne Girls’ Grammar. It’s really nice to have someone who shares a similar experience; someone who understands me, who also encourages my individuality.

Photo: Scott McNaughton

Photo: Scott McNaughton

LAMIA SAYS …

I began my tertiary studies in dentistry. However, in my family I was surrounded by teachers.

My mother and her three sisters are teachers and, while I wanted to move away from becoming a teacher, my compassion for others led me to the realisation that teaching enabled me to enjoy learning and helping others to learn.

With a love for mathematics, I changed my degree to a bachelor of education majoring in mathematics.

In my role as director of senior years at MGGS, I support the girls individually at every opportunity.

My interactions with the girls range from guiding them through the subject selection process to addressing and supporting them on matters of well-being.

Mentoring at MGGS is an important way to guarantee students receive support in their education and are able to excel in their fields of interest.

My role helps to ensure students enjoy a holistic education and gain a balanced view of the place that study holds in an authentically happy life.

For Rose, that’s in science and mathematics and flourishing as a leader in her role as the community, service and action vice-captain.

Rose comes from a similar background to me, in that I came to Australia from Lebanon at the age of 16. My first languages are Arabic and French. I attended a French private school in Lebanon.

Rose was also 16 when she came to Australia. We met when she came into my office to talk about [school] subjects and, as our conversation progressed, we began to discuss how best to manage her transition to MGGS.

I referred to, and reflected, on my own experiences and we discovered many aspects that linked us together.

We both play piano and we both love mathematics and I think it helped Rose relax a little more, feel a little bit better that there was someone who really understands her, who has been through similar experiences.

The interesting thing in the Lebanese culture – and this is another common aspect of Rose’s and my relationship – is that women do not always have an equal voice.

For me to be where I am today has taken courage and determination, and I see those qualities in Rose’s approach to learning and leading at MGGS.

I try to always model the belief that women can be leaders, that they can have an influence in society.

MELBOURNE GIRLS’ GRAMMAR

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