COVID-19, study and moving away

First year Australian National University student Helana Trantino, a former Young High School student. Photo: contributed
First year Australian National University student Helana Trantino, a former Young High School student. Photo: contributed

Former Young High School student Helana Trantino is facing the challenges of moving away from home, university and the COVID-19 pandemic with intelligence, thoughtfulness and positivity.

Helana was born on the Gold Coast, but spent most of her childhood in the Cherry Capital.

Helana spent her days playing netball, dancing, going on road trips and eating many cherries with her Mum, Dad and older sister.

Helana is studying at the Australian National University (ANU), and even with her sister at the same university she struggled to get used to being away from home, and away from family. Helana hopes to major in biochemistry, captivated by the broad topics and research available, and has a particular interest in genetics. Like many rural students, finding accommodation was a challenge.

Even though she didn't get her first choice of on-campus accommodation, she says she has now become part of a "welcoming community" at Fenner Hall. Helana had been on campus for a little over a month and just started to settle in and make friends when COVID-19 hit. She was looking forward to meeting new people and finding her way.

During the height of the pandemic, Helana and other students across the country were forced to find alternative accommodation or return home to continue their studies online.

For Helana, this meant returning home and, despite leaving her part-time job in Canberra, she felt very fortunate in what has been a very disruptive time for many people.

"Isolation due to COVID-19 has made me realise the importance of introspection and trying new things which I hope to continue in the post COVID-19 world," she said.

Helana says Country Education Foundation grant funding has eased financial pressure on herself and family. Helana is keen to encourage other school-leavers. She is all too aware of the doubts students can feel, but say they should "take the leap" and that there are support systems and people out there willing to help.

"If it is something you are passionate about or want to pursue further, put in the effort and you can make it happen," she said.