Class of 1969

John Cunningham Wood is the son of hard working parents who were forced to leave school to work.

His father was from Galashiels just over the Scottish border and his mother was born in Greenbushes. John’s parents pursued a range of jobs and had bakeries in Denmark, Brookton and Carnamah, working extremely hard and long days.

Life was not easy.

John’s parents taught him about survival during those tough times even before Aquinas did. John saw their challenges at close hand and they spurred him on, through his years at Aquinas and beyond to ensure that he would never “be of that world”.

One of the things an Aquinas education taught young Wood was not only to survive but to thrive in adverse conditions. He learned to be “streetwise” in a way that helped him through some of the rough and tumble of boarding life. It worked.

He was a Prefect in his final year and although he failed Latin and French in Year 10, John graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Economics at UWA before applying for a Rhodes Scholarship. He lost by a casting vote to a footballer, but instead secured an Australian-wide Shell Scholarship to Oxford.

Unusually he read Economics in two colleges at Oxford: Nuffield and Exeter and gained his D.Phil with an exceptionally high mark. He sees his professional life as having four “ages”: scholar; economic adviser/speechwriter for Prime Minister Bob Hawke; civil servant/economist and finally global education provider. This speaks to the thing life in the bush and the school gave him above all else – adaptability.

His achievements like his publications are many. John was appointed Hughes Business Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Edith Cowan University and finally CEO of University Programs at Navitas the global education provider.

John remembers getting on well with the Brothers and that “some of the Brothers were unquestionably involved in the great commitment to education.” They laid the foundations of what was to be a stellar career and no doubt helped form him. Determination, discipline, hard work, resilience, focused completion of tasks. These are all attributes John feels he gained from his time at Aquinas College