Courtney Hughes: alumni profile

Alumna Courtney Hughes

A desire to work in healthcare, passion for creative arts and a love of her fur-baby has seen Courtney Hughes (2011) build a life (and business) that ticks all the boxes. 

What has been your path since graduating from CCGS in 2011?

Like lots of students, I decided to jump straight into university after school. I started a Bachelor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Macquarie University with the goal of becoming a Speech Pathologist. It was while on exchange at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA that I realised I wasn't enjoying it and needed a change. 

One of the electives I was taking while overseas had a medical imaging component. I will never forget when they said in the lecture, "CT scans are very accessible, even countries like Australia have them." I thought the subject was interesting and messaged some friends who were studying Radiography. They were enjoying the course and I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare sector, so I decided to make a change.

I completed a Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science in Diagnostic Radiography at the University of Newcastle in 2016 and started my career as a Radiographer that same year. I love the fact I am able to help people and work in a team environment. While I love my 9 to 5 job, I also love to be creative and am often looking for ways I can fill my creative cup. Over the past six years, my partner Brendan and I renovated our house and caravan while juggling our full-time jobs.

Courtney Hughes

What was the inspiration behind Santa Paws?

Last year I wanted to get a Christmas photo with our dog Willow but quickly found that there was very limited availability on the Central Coast for Christmas photos that allowed pets. That was when the idea of Santa Paws came to mind. So, this year I got to work learning photography (which not surprisingly has lots of similarities to taking x-rays!) and building my small business. My vision is to create a Christmas photo experience that invites families to bring their much-loved pets along too! I know how much our fur babies are part of the family and wanted to create Christmas memories that involve them too! I learned how to build a website, and create booking calendars, payments, logos, flyers, and signs and with the help of my loved ones, I built a little studio space in Forresters Beach!  

What is the proudest moment from your post-school life?

My partner Brendan and I purchased an old caravan in need of a full restoration. As Brendan's grandfather would often tell us, it is one of those jobs that most people would start and quickly figure out it’s probably not worth the time and effort needed and it may never be finished. I am so proud of my partner for sticking to the restoration and seeing it through. The final outcome is a true masterpiece and I still can't believe that we did it! 

What trait has been most vital in helping you succeed?

I have always been ambitious and give everything a go! As I've grown older I have become better at recognising the difference between doing what I 'think' I should be doing and doing what my 'heart' tells me to do.  

Courtney Hughes renovating her home with her partner

Outside of photography and radiology, what are you passionate about?

Trying to make the most out of life. I love spending time dancing and being with friends, family and love being at the beach! 

What CCGS experience or achievement most prepared you for where you are today?

I feel so lucky I had so many opportunities to travel during my time at CCGS, from music tours (Canada and United States), exchange (New Zealand), humanitarian trips (Cambodia and Thailand) and language (Japan). When I write it down on paper, I just think wow, how amazing! These experiences helped build my confidence and independence as a young adult. 

What advice would you give to students sitting their HSC? 

When I sat my final exams I thought it would define my future. Once you leave school, the world opens up and it's much more than your final result. There are so many options out there including the arts, travel, work, TAFE, trades, work experience and more. It may take a few years, but you will find yourself and what makes your heart sing!