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News & Media > Alumnae Awards > 2023 Alumnae Award Recipients > Dr Anita Vandyke (Ho, 2004)

Dr Anita Vandyke (Ho, 2004)

2023 Young Alumnae Award for Social Welfare and Impact
Dr Anita Vandyke (Ho, 2004)
Dr Anita Vandyke (Ho, 2004)

At MLC School, Anita Vandyke (then Anita Ho) stated that she wanted to become an astronaut. In Year 10 she did work experience at an aerospace engineering organisation and was hooked. While at School she won first prize in a National Science Competition and was invited to see rocket launches in Woomera, South Australia. She went straight from school to study Aeronautical Space Engineering at the University of Sydney, where she learnt to build an aircraft, fly planes and how to code.

Upon graduation, she worked for QANTAS on the design of the A380, and also in Engineering Management for Transport NSW. She became a manager in a large engineering firm and was, as she described herself, “a stiletto shoe wearing, designer bag chasing maximalist – trying to find happiness in all the usual places – shoes, handbags and clothing”. On paper her life looked like success, but one afternoon Anita had an epiphany: “I remember sitting in a meeting, looking at my boss, my boss’ boss, thinking, is this who I will become in 5, 10, 15 years’ time?”. Anita realised that this path so deviated from her core values that she no longer recognised herself, and that if she continued her hopes of living a life that was hers would be lost forever. That’s when she found two movements that changed her life – minimalism and zero waste living. She quit her corporate job and focussed on her goal of becoming an Aerospace Doctor for NASA, and transforming her life by “stripping away the layers of excess”.

She pursued a postgraduate Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Notre Dame. In 2016, the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine (ASAM) awarded Anita a John Lane Trust scholarship – awarded to a full-time medical student in an Australasian university who is interested in the specialty of aerospace medicine. Anita’s first article in ASAM’s journal was titled ‘The mind craft project – healthy minds, healthy pilots: A literature review on mindfulness meditation programs for commercial airlines pilots.’

At the same time, Anita started an Instagram account (@rocket_science) and a website ( that documents her minimalist and zero waste journey, and also provided a creative outlet for her engineering mind to investigate solutions to plastic waste.

Today Anita’s Instagram account is very successful. She regularly appears in the media (The Drum, 7.30 Report, SBS Food, 2SER, Sydney Morning Herald, The Washington Post, The Guardian, to name a few) to discuss Australia’s throw-away attitude and shares advice on how everyone can produce less waste.

Anita’s first book, A Zero Waste Life: In thirty days, won Gold at the Nautilus Book Awards in 2019 and has been translated into seven languages. After becoming a mother, she followed this up with A Zero Waste Family: In thirty days.

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