Leaving Dubbo will be “bittersweet” for Phoebe Jones.
The 18-year-old made the Higher School Certificate honour roll last year, and on Friday heads to Newcastle to start her next adventure: a combined Bachelor of Law and Commerce.
She’s confident the University of Newcastle is the right fit, having visited older sister Maddison there on numerous occasions in recent years.
But she’s aware moving to a coastal city of close to half a million people will be a far cry from Dubbo, and the 500-odd students at Macquarie Anglican Grammar School.
“It’s bittersweet,” Phoebe said.
“I’ve grown up here all my life.
I’ve definitely grown as a person and it’s all because of Dubbo.Phoebe Jones
“I’m comfortable here, you know everyone, everyone’s a close-knit community whereas in Newcastle everything is going to be new, new experiences.
“I’ve never moved away from home at all and I did attend a school of 500 or so people, so it will definitely be about getting out there, exploring and forming new friendships … with a completely different crowd.”
Phoebe’s situation is not unique, as students across Dubbo often face the decision to stay, or leave to pursue different opportunities.
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But many choose to come back, and Phoebe herself hopes to return and undertake the final, practical aspect of her degree with her auntie Kelly Hardie’s law firm.
Helping there during the school holidays has “solidified” her decision to study law.
“It’s a job that keeps on giving, basically,” Phoebe said.
“Law is intellectually challenging and … there’s so many different areas you can go into and it’s also intellectually rewarding as well.”
Her passion for giving back was fostered at school, where she enjoyed doing charity work for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Dubbo’s oncology unit.
“That’s what I love about Dubbo – you can be heavily involved in the community,” Phoebe said.
She also played netball, enjoyed parkrun and CrossFit, and worked at The Athlete’s Foot throughout her high school years.
Phoebe said “a balanced lifestyle iss the best way to get through the HSC”, and emphasised the importance of support networks.
“Don’t close yourself off, engage in activities that you still love,” she said.
“I wouldn’t have done it without the encouragement I’ve gotten off other people. Yes, you can believe in yourself but it’s also nice to have other people believe in you as well.”