SGHS Dux of 1997, and Rhodes Scholar, Rachel Carrell is now Chief Executive of UK online doctor service DrThom.
Rachel Carrell jokes that the only theme in her life story has been that she quite likes "doing random things". The former Southland Girls’ High School Old Girl is now at the helm of DrThom, the UK's largest online doctor service, which is aiming for turnover of 10 million this year.
Living in London is a far cry from growing up in Invercargill, where she was Dux of Southland Girls' High School in 1997. While at SGHS Rachel distinguished herself as an academic and entrepreneurial leader. As Enterpriser of the Year and a member of the SGHS team that won the Innovation award in 1997, and Young Enterprise Company of the Year, it was clear that she was destined for bigger things.
A keen debater, Rachel was selected as a member of the New Zealand Secondary School Debating team who competed in the world championships in Israel, gaining third place. Rachel credits Young Enterprise as having the biggest influence during her school days. “I feel lucky to have grown up in Southland with its fantastic schools and safe, supportive environment".
Ms Carrell studied politics and linguistics at the University of Otago, graduating at the end of 2001. She describes her university years as a "hugely formative experience" and she kept in touch with "loads" of fellow students. Just before graduating, she was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University.
DrThom was founded by Dr Thom Van Every, a UK trained doctor. In 2006, it became the first online organisation to register with the government regulator of healthcare, the Care Quality Commission. Describing it as "a whole new dawn for healthcare", Ms Carrell said it made healthcare more efficient and accessible. The service was "definitely not for everyone or for every occasion" and about 10% of people accessing the service were turned down. Ms Carrell, describes her job as "super-exciting"."When I first started at Oxford I was nervous about whether I would keep up with the students who'd been to expensive private schools and completed their undergraduate degrees at places like Harvard and Stanford. I didn't need to worry at all. SGHS had given me a great foundation. At SGHS we were taught to inquire, to question, to create our own answers. We weren't just taught how to do exams; we were taught how to do life.
I didn't realise at the time what a special place SGHS was. The school managed to be inclusive, supportive and caring, while also challenging each of us to fulfil our potential. We were taught that we could do anything, that with hard work we could stand alongside the best in New Zealand and the world.
Looking back, I can hardly believe the wealth of opportunities there were at school. All you had to do was take them. I tried loads of extracurricular activities -- debating, Young Enterprise, choirs, orchestras, Model United Nations, hockey, soccer, and an exchange to Germany -- but there were so many others on offer.
I spent five very happy years at SGHS, and feel lucky to have been educated there."