CHANGE OF DIRECTION: Lismore dancer Kaitlyn McNall will swap tutus for textbooks after she achieved a stellar ATAR score to study psychology at Southern Cross University.
CHANGE OF DIRECTION: Lismore dancer Kaitlyn McNall will swap tutus for textbooks after she achieved a stellar ATAR score to study psychology at Southern Cross University. John Gass /TWE

Hard decisions: Lismore dancer chooses academia over ballet

YEARS of practise, overcoming injuries and the grit that comes with classical ballet training has given dancer Kaitlyn McNall a steely determination to pursue an academic career.

Using the same approach which saw her participate in the Interstate Training Program for the Australian Ballet School, meant the 18-year-old Lismore student achieved 286 out of a possible 300, the equivalent to an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank over 90.

Now Ms McNall will take up a place in the Bachelor of Psychological Science at Southern Cross University.

The former ballerina who undertook distance education for much of her high school, channelled the determination she once poured into dancing to enrol with TAFE NSW.

There she completed the year 12 equivalent through the Tertiary Preparation pathway where she topped the state for Asia Pacific studies and placed in the top 50 for English.

Ms McNall said her decision to choose academia instead of taking the next step in ballet and audition for a place in a company came after much thought.

"I was completing year 10 via Sydney Distance Education High School, as I was training full-time as a classical ballerina,” she said.

"I didn't want to return to mainstream school so I explored what the options were available to me, and TAFE looked like the right fit.”

Ms McNall said a positive approach was crucial to back up her decision to follow and academic career rather than one in the spotlight.

"My friends were concerned and I knew once I quit ballet I could not go back,” she said.

"But in the end they told me they knew that I would make the right decision for myself - and I have.”

Ms McNall said swapping tutus for textbooks is the right move.

"As long as I put my study first, I can achieve anything,” she said.

"I would highly recommend TAFE...it suits people who are looking for a different pathway into university.”



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