Breigh Angove has learned a valuable lesson in the past year: no matter what anyone else says, you should always follow your heart.
Sixteen months ago she was flying high: dux of Murray Bridge High School with an ATAR, or Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank, of 97.00 out of a possible 100.
The university world was at her feet, and like many high achievers she followed through with a long-held plan to enrol in medicine, a course befitting her academic pedigree.
"For me it was 'what's the biggest, greatest thing I could do?'" she said.
"Because of always having good grades, there was a lot of pressure to do something big."
But four months in she realised that the medical profession was not for her.
"It's one of those things you can't experience (without having studied it)," she said.
"I realised how many years of study it was going to be, and the lifestyle you didn't have ... it was not what I wanted."
She described the decision to drop out as the hardest she had ever made, given she had worked so hard to get there in the first place.
There was a backlash, too: from classmates saying she couldn't cut it, and others telling her she had wasted her high entry score.
So she kept working hard: in a cafe and as a private tutor.
When she picked up some work as a student services officer back at the high school, mentoring students in maths and science, she realised she had found the path she was meant to take.
"Teaching was always something I'd thought of, but it was always like 'I can do something better'," she said, scoffing at the last word with the benefit of hindsight.
"(Eventually) I just kind of realised some of the biggest influences in my life have been my teachers.
"It'd be really good to have that impact on kids that my teachers had on me."
She would also be able to help fill a national shortage of female maths and science teachers.
She had already broken the gender barrier by becoming the only girl in her school's top-flight pedal prix team, "which I loved - it really pushed me"; now she could do the same in her new profession, and show the next generation of girls they could succeed in male-dominated fields.
Breigh's story helped her win a Playford Trust scholarship for regional students of science and engineering.
She began a double degree in education and science at Flinders University this year.
"No matter how much pressure you put on yourself, or other people put on you, and the expectations they put on you, you've still got to do what you want to do," she said.