William McNamara is nearing the end of his fourth year in College and has recently taken on the position of Dean of Students. Here, he discusses his education, College experiences and future plans in his field of study.
When did you arrive at St Andrew’s?
I arrived as a fresher in Semester 1, 2012.
Where are you from?
I grew up in the regional NSW town of Goulburn. I went to the local primary school and high school for Year 7 and 8. At the commencement of Year 9 I went to board at Trinity Grammar School in Summer Hill.
What degree are you studying?
I’m currently in my 4th year of Medicine (MD) at the University of New South Wales. The degree is 6 years in total so I’ll be two thirds complete by the end of 2015.
Can you tell us about your experience at St Andrew’s to date?
If we take it one step back, I had initially applied for a College position at St Andrew’s because I needed somewhere to live whilst studying at university as my family resided in the country. After my interview with Principal Wayne Erickson, I realised that St Andrew’s was not merely a place to eat and sleep. He kept repeating the words ‘community’ and ‘opportunity’ – two things that I have since learnt St Andrew’s has in abundance. If there was something I wanted to do, start a jazz ensemble for example, there would be other students wanting to participate and our student leadership group were there to help make it happen. Many people think that St Andrew’s is all about the sandstone but I would argue that they’ve overlooked the vibrant culture that exudes from every member of the college, the ingrained camaraderie that remains for many years after valediction, and the numerous opportunities available to pursue interests and develop skills that would be otherwise unavailable.
Finally, I would like to mention an analogy that I have used before in discussion at one of the fresher dinners at The Lodge with the Principal and his wife, a small number of freshers and their mentors: St Andrew’s is like super phosphate for life. In other words, whilst many students may be focused on achieving exceptional marks, the students at St Andrew’s are busy achieving these same goals and a whole lot more in terms of developing emotional intelligence, skills for living in a community, and overall maturity. There is a reason that St Andrew’s alumni feature frequently as leaders in their respective fields. I’d say it’s the super phosphate.
What have you done at College and/or University that you are most proud of?
In my first year, I auditioned for the College Dramatic Society play and was fortunate enough to be cast for the lead role in ‘Boeing-Boeing’, a Broadway farce set in 1950’s France following the tribulations of Bernard, a French architect with three fiancées – all of them air hostesses. The reason why I chose this as my proudest moment was that this was the furthest outside of my comfort zone that I have ever been at college. Previously, my colourful drama career consisted of a single Year 5 musical (where I played a school bully) about a child who gained super powers when he ate vegemite and green apples. Needless to say, ‘Boeing-Boeing’ pushed me. I had jelly legs on the first night. I was terrified that no one would think we were funny, I would get stage fright or that I would stuff up a crucial line. Thankfully, it all ran smoothly and we pulled off a great production with pleasing reviews from friends and family. I befriended people that I wouldn’t have gotten to know had I not auditioned, it’s a great story to tell those who haven’t heard how best to catch a flying German woman mid-air after she has leapt from a nearby coffee table. I also learnt many lessons that I have been able to translate to my career aspirations such as the importance of mental preparation before a performance, how to perform in front of an audience, and the benefits of teamwork and trust within a team.
You presented a research paper at the Congress for the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine earlier this year. Can you tell us more about that experience?
I presented in Lyon at the Congress for the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. I was a finalist for the Richard B Caspari Award for outstanding research on the upper limb (four finalists were selected from hundreds of papers). I was the only medical student there. The rest were orthopaedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians and aspiring junior doctors. There were over 3,000 delegates. It was a fantastic opportunity to network and envisage what a career in this field would involve. Since then my research has been accepted into the AAOS congress (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery), the biggest conference in the world with 25,000 delegates to be presented next year in March 2016 In Florida, USA. Thirdly, it has also been accepted to the ICSES (International Congress of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery) to be presented in May 2016 in South Korea. These three conferences are the biggest three in the world for shoulder research. It has been a great experience thus far and I feel very fortunate to have been given these opportunities. I have continued my research at the St George Hospital Orthopaedic Research Institute and have five other papers at different stages of the research process.
Since the ISAKOS congress I have also started up an orthopaedic and sports medicine device company with two other colleagues that aims to innovate and solve problems in current practice and one day be a world leader in its field.
What do you want to do when you finish your degree?
When I finish my degree I want to do a PhD in orthopaedics as I eventually want to become an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine physician. I really like the idea of marrying clinical and surgical practice with evidence-based research. Ideally, I will also have a third arm in my career that identifies gaps in our methodology for solving common orthopaedic and/or sports medicine problems and creates possible solutions for these gaps.
What advice would you give to prospective applicants?
Firstly, apply. Then, get in contact with current students or alumni and ask them what it’s like. Finally, ask yourself the question: what do I really want to get out of College?