“If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
Ms Nadine Alexander is a postgraduate student at the Queensland Eye Institute.
Tell us a little about yourself, i.e. how did you become interested in science?
I became interested in science when I was only 8 years old. I received a really cool science experiment book for Christmas and I can recall sitting on the balcony floor and just reading and performing the basic experiments. From a young age, I found it extremely fascinating to know how things work and why things work. Ultimately, this book began my love for science. Adding to this, my parents have medical and scientific backgrounds, so there has always been quite a lot of medical jargon thrown around the household – perhaps it was inevitable that I would end up in the health/science field.
What has been your career path?
I graduated high school in 2012, and began my Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree in 2013. I chose this course because I thought it would be a nice balance between clinical health, and laboratory science. After 3 years of undergraduate study, I felt like it would be a good idea to bring together my knowledge of anatomy, physiology and cell biology and work on a Higher Degree Research Project, and earn a Masters of Philosophy.
I came to the Queensland Eye Institute as I have always had a fascination with eyes – they are just SO COOL! Your eyes begin to develop as soon as 2 weeks of embryogenesis, and they are the same size from birth to death. A whopping 80% of our memories are determined from what we see and the eyes are the second most complex organ after the brain. Personally, I find the eyes one of the most exciting organs to learn about. I am not sure what is next after my Master’s degree, but whatever opportunity presents itself; I will take it!
What drives you and what do you enjoy about your current position?
I found it difficult as an undergraduate student to keep my study at a limit, i.e. what the lecturer teaches you, is what you need to learn. In my current position as a postgraduate student I am able to learn independently at a fast rate which I love as I’m a very fast paced person, and I am able to discover new things on a daily basis. I’ve learnt complex problem solving skills which is quite easy when you’re working with something you’re truly passionate about!. Currently I am able to explore how much I like research, and whether I will upgrade my work to a PhD project, or use it as a stepping stone to study medicine, which has forever been my ultimate dream.
What is the achievement you are the most proud of?
To me, life shouldn’t be about focussing on just one thing, so at this stage in my life I want to be able to have many things on the go. I am proud of myself for being able to juggle study, work, family, friends, and time for myself, even when it has sometimes been difficult. The achievement I am most proud of would be graduating with my Bachelors degree at the age of 20, and I will finish my Masters by the age of 21! I’m pretty excited to see where I can go next from here.
What has been the most important advice you were ever given?
I was once told that “not everything works out the way you plan for it to” – things happen, both good and bad – I’m a big believer of “things happening for a reason”; so if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be; and if it’s not, then that’s just bad luck. So the way I’ve learnt to deal with these things is to adapt and “just keep swimming”, exactly like Dory from Finding Nemo, a childhood (adult) favourite!
What would you like to tell your 16 year old self?
When I was younger, I allowed the fear of failure to determine some big decisions. Over the years, I have learnt that failing at something you love, isn’t failing at all; no matter how heartbreaking or earth-shattering it could be. I’d rather fail at something I am passionate about, pick myself up and try again, than be successful in something that I am bored with. I’ve learnt that with hard work, determination, and persistence, there is no reason why you can’t obtain that goal you’ve always had set in your mind. If something doesn’t work out the way you plan for it to, you just have to pick yourself up, move on and try it again a different way.
Is there a saying you hold as a life motto?
One of my many life mottos stems from NIKE – “Just Do It”.