As thousands of Illawarra students celebrate their university offers today, the good news is bitter-sweet for Figtree’s Kaitlin Christlo.
Just a week after losing her father Mark to cancer, the 18-year-old was accepted into a commerce and engineering degree at the University of Wollongong and achieved a goal the pair mapped out together.
Kaitlin credits her dad, an electrician, for passing on his love of maths and problem-solving and for inspiring her to study engineering.
‘‘Even though Dad was so sick he still supported me so much during the HSC,’’ the former Figtree High School student said.
‘‘I’m a bit lost now, but I know he’d be proud I got into uni to the course we had planned.’’
Mr Christlo first became sick about 18 months ago, surviving a ruptured bowel only to be diagnosed with liver cancer three months later.
His condition worsened and months of treatment blurred together as Kaitlin juggled the stress of her final years at school, completing most of her assessment tasks and exams between hospital visits.
‘‘Dad had three-quarters of his liver removed just before my trials and then he got sick again just before the HSC and had to spend a lot of time in hospital,’’ she said.
‘‘He was into St George Hospital for a while, so it was hard going up there each day and then coming back to school for a little bit.
‘‘There was a fair bit of disruption to school, but it was more important to be with family.’’
Her dedication to her studies and her family was rewarded with an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) of 91.55 when HSC results were released, leaving her dad bursting with pride.
‘‘I was really close with him and he was really proud when I got my ATAR. That’s all that I really wanted – to make him proud.’’
She said she couldn’t have survived the year without the love and support of her mother Kim and older sister Ainsleigh, along with countless family friends, teachers and classmates.
‘‘It was really hard but I had a lot of support and I’m really appreciative of everyone who helped me.’’
Kaitlin, who also received a Faculty of Engineering scholarship for her outstanding academic performance, was among 3024 students who received an offer from the University of Wollongong.
Students received offers online via the University Admissions Centre at 9pm yesterday.
UOW made offers in 148 different programs – the largest intakes being in commerce, engineering, nursing, primary education and law.