EMILY Mitchell has seen the effects of COVID-19 and wants to do her part.
While she is still yet to finish her final year of school at St Joseph's College, this unprecedented year has made her even more set on joining the fight at the front line.
Before even starting year 12, the Lockington local had her heart set on the medical field.
“I've known for the last couple of years that I'm avid about science and maths and ever since I went to East Timor last year I knew I wanted to be a doctor,” she said.
“From there I realised I wanted to do biomedicine at the University of Melbourne, so COVID-19 hasn't made me change my mind — if anything, it's made me want to do it more.”
Ms Mitchell made the decision because she knew she wanted help those who have needed it most and learn more about the science behind the virus.
“The fact that we know so little about COVID-19 and by learning the smallest things about viruses in biology just made me want to learn more about it,” she said.
“We had a resilience session the other day and we were all being asked why we wanted to go down our chosen career paths and I think my ‘why’ to becoming a doctor is because I want to help people, it's just a passion I've always had and amplified even more during this pandemic.”
Like other students around the country, Ms Mitchell struggled with the lockdown and shift to online learning.
“It really affected me emotionally. I wasn't able to see my friends and not having that support system in person from the school, it really took a toll,” she said.
“Going into the year I had so many expectations on what the year would be like. I think we all hoped for a great and social year and it was all this amazing bright picture, but it definitely didn't turn out that way.
“I found I wasn't doing as well with my studies as I'd hoped and I wasn't able to talk to my teachers about it in person about that, but I think the social side of it was the hardest part.”
But thankfully technology and support from those around her got her through.
“We all knew if we stuck together, we could get through it and I was very thankful for all the support from my family,” she said.
“They've seen how hard I work and know where I want to go so they've helped me through, but I feel like there's something about having a social life and being with your friends that guides you through tough times and I feel like we've been deprived of that this year.”
Ms Mitchell found she needed to create more of a balance to get through what was already a hard year.
“I found at the start of the year that I was over-working myself because I was working all the time and not having an outlet because we didn't have any sport or seeing my friends,” she said.
“I worked with my parents and a couple of my teachers to change my schedule in a way that I would be able to allow myself to have time for my school and enough to get the best results I can, but also time to look after my mental and physical health.
“I made sure I was calling my friends, going outside to play basketball with my brothers and having that time to myself.”
Ms Mitchell found it especially hard to get through the subjects she had chosen.
“It was exceptionally hard, and still is, with such dense subjects like biology, chemistry and maths, but it's all about adapting to what you've been given,” she said.
“At the start every single person, including teachers and students, had no idea what we were doing, so it was a bit rough, but now coming back into lockdown a second time I think we've been able to mentally prepare ourselves and made sure we knew what worked and what didn't.”
And at the same time, Ms Mitchell saw her family struggle with the original ‘border bubble’ restrictions.
“It didn't affect me personally so much, but it was hard for my family because we have farms over the border plus different tradings, so that was a whole other experience,” she said.
“We really did have to figure out how to work in with those restrictions and make sure we stayed afloat.”
And for year 12s in 2021, Ms Mitchell said they needed to keep an open mind if COVID-19 did affect their schooling.
“You need to be open to change. It really is the hardest thing to not know what's going to happen next, so you really need to take things as they come and be open to advice and suggestions from others,” she said.