Dr. Indra Returns for Graduation

In 2016, our school made contact with Dr Indra Nordstrand, a past student of the School who had graduated in 1990 before she went on to study Medicine. Graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery, Indra gained her Master of Philosophy before completing her surgical training (in Australia and the United Kingdom). Upon returning to Australia in 2014, Indra has worked in hospitals in Victoria, Western Australia and New Zealand, prior to resettling in Melbourne.

Indra has continuously tried to live by the School’s values and ideals as exemplified in the School motto: “In pursuit of Excellence, Knowledge and Service.” She expresses in her life and work the truth of what Vijayadev Yogendra, the Founder of the School taught, that however humble one’s beginnings, one can achieve one’s goals through self-belief and hard work. Indra was certainly not handed life on a platter, but her commitment and her concentration ensured success. Indra was invited to give the 2016 Graduation Address and presentation of certificates to the graduates. In accepting this invitation, she said that it was a privilege and honour for her to return to the School and contribute in this way.

In the week prior to the Graduation, Indra spent time at the School reconnecting with the environ and the teachers as well as meeting newer staff, the current students and a number of parents. She attended the primary school Quiet Time with Principal Shane Power, talking about her life and work. A number of School photographs showing Indra in several School drama performances were on show for the children. Indra visited all the classes during her time, talking with students and teachers, and participating in some classroom activities. The Preps and Grade 1 enjoyed her visit where she talked about her role as a doctor, showing them on a doll how to assess a patient’s health. The children then immersed themselves in hospital play, practicing their newfound knowledge and skills on one another. Other classes practiced their interviewing skills by asking Indra many questions without notice, about life and work. Several students aspiring to be medical doctors spoke with her. Indra also spoke with parents in the Parent Program as well as meeting with all the teachers in their weekly staff meeting.

The 2016 Total Education Graduates were honoured in an uplifting ceremony in the School’s Vijayadev Yogendra Auditorium. The title of Indra’s speech was “A Surgeon’s Perspective of Gender Impact in the Workplace & The Concept of Work-Life Integration”. In it she drew on personal experience in becoming a surgeon, the gender imbalance in the workplace across the board, and issues of discrimination within the surgical training body on which change is trying to be made. She also talked about achieving work-life integration rather than work-life balance as attainable, the interconnected roles of work and life rather than the perceived conflict between the two, relationships and responsibilities that make up our lives. The basic principles of work-life balance require individuals to prioritise work and life, as if the two are in conflict, creating a sense of competition between the two and negative pressure or stress within individuals if not achieved. For Indra, her work is her vocation, an immersion; there is no separation of work-life from non-work-life. Work is service to self and wider humanity.

It was a unique insight on the challenges facing young people entering the adult world, their next Chapter and their chosen career, and the personal skills, attitudes and values needed to meet these challenges. As a past student of the School, Indra was able to reassure the graduates that the academic education the School provided plus the focus on character development would enable them to pursue a wide variety of careers and life-paths into the future. This she has observed in other past students – their pursuits and careers have been wide in variety, not narrow in choice. She has also observed that no matter what career an individual pursues there are always constant challenges to standards of work and philosophies.

“I feel the School’s focus on helping students develop intrinsic motivation rather than building your self-worth on how much better or worse you are than others, helped me enormously in dealing with the competition I faced in over twenty years of intensive work and training. It meant I drew strength from within, and was a lot calmer and concentrated.”

The Nobel Laureate and Humanitarian, Dr. Albert Schweitzer believed that “example is leadership.” Albert Einstein believed that “setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only way”. No one present at Indra’s talks will quickly forget her openness and expressions of gratitude to the school, the teachers and others involved in the School. It was a visit enjoyed by all.