Hard labour of study pays off
NOT finishing Year 9 at school may put up a barrier when trying to find a good job, but the decision to quit education early has not stopped former Grafton woman Sandy Thornton from forging ahead.
Mrs Thornton, who grew up in Grafton and went to Westlawn Public School and briefly Grafton High School, has just completed her training as an ambulance officer for the Queensland Ambulance Service in Toowoomba. Her husband, Michael, also is an ambulance officer.
"I feel like I can move mountains at the moment," Sandy said yesterday.
"It's been a huge achievement. I left school in Year 9.
"I didn't have the opportunity to advance educationwise, so to get where I am, to have achieved a diploma, it's been the best experience."
After years of study and through the support of her mentor on the student program, Rod Macdonald, she became a paramedic, like her husband Michael.
The journey for her began when Toowoomba station officer-in-charge Ross Chalmers asked if she had thought about becoming a patient transfer officer. The former shoe store manager did not hesitate.
"I could see how happy Mike was doing his job," she said.
Keen to advance, after 18 months Mrs Thornton began a three-year program to become a paramedic.
The family moved to Toowoomba from Grafton in 2001 with their two children Jake and Bailey, after Mr Thornton, a former butcher, was offered a position with the ambulance service in Toowoomba.
"Mike just went ahead in leaps and bounds. When he got here he was engrossed in his job," she said.
"I love my job because you can make a difference. You can bring a smile to someone's face. You can help them."
But having two ambulance officers in the family can make life difficult.
"We never see each other," Mrs Thornton said.
"We have two children aged 10 and seven so they (the ambulance service) have been really good here and put us on opposite shifts so when someone's at home, the other person is at work."
Mr Chalmers said Mrs Thornton projected enthusiasm and dedication to her role as an advanced care paramedic.