Where are they now | Dr Violet Kieu, Class of 2001
Fintona taught Violet both the beauty of science, and the importance of arts. Her profession is medicine, as a fertility specialist but she also has a passion for writing.
Violet started at Fintona in Year 5 and was encouraged to pursue a wide range of co-curricular activities including hockey (after school, in the rain), debating, as well as being involved in the library as a book monitor. In Year 12 Violet was Boyne House Co-Captain.
After leaving school, Violet entered the University of Melbourne and graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine/Surgery, and Bachelor of Medical Science in 2007. She was awarded the Royal Children’s Hospital Vernon Collins Prize for Paediatrics. Violet also holds a Masters in Reproductive Medicine, with Excellence, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and is a Clinical Lecturer at the School of Medicine at the University of Melbourne.
Violet has worked in Paediatric Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and is now the Reproductive Services Fellow at the Royal Women’s Hospital. Her unit performs the only public In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) service in Victoria. ‘This role includes fertility preservation for people with cancer, helping freeze eggs, embryos, sperm, as well as ovarian and testicular tissue, for the future,’ said Violet.
Violet says that what inspired her initially was the intersection between birth, women’s health, and surgery but what motivates her now are the patients, and an attempt to help with their fertility journey.
During her time at Fintona, Violet felt mentored by her mathematics teacher Mrs Jenny Sharwood OAM. Mrs Sharwood led the Future Problem-Solving team, where Violet’s team reached the National Finals, as well as the Science Talent Search, where the girls won a minor prize for their board game ‘Into Digestion’. Best of all, Mrs Sharwood took the class to a tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory!
In the arts, highlights were Shakespeare Day, where Violet remembers dressing up as a witch running up the stairs of the beautiful Quad (bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble!), creating a decoupage framed mirror (which she still has today), and receiving the 2001 Boroondara Literature Award for Senior Prose. ‘I continue to write personal essays, with mentorships from the Australia Society of Authors and ACT Writer’s HARDCOPY, and was Highly Commended in the 2020 Alan Russel Award for Memoir,’ said Violet.
Memories of Fintona bring back great nostalgia for Violet, providing both a balm and source of resilience in these COVID times. She recently attended her 20 year school reunion, a delightful face-to-face meeting of old friends.
Her everyday reality now is that hospitals have moved towards rationalisation of operating lists, so she is working within the re-distribution of the precious resources of people and energy.
Violet’s message to current students is ‘make time for the multitudes of you; your creative expression is just as wonderful as your productive self’.