Growing up in Ouyen
I grew up in Ouyen, a small town in North-West Victoria. My family owned a farm and later some small businesses, and I mostly enjoyed being at my local school.
Part of that was due to taking the advice of pursuing subjects I would enjoy, rather than hitting my head against the wall in subjects I would’ve only picked because they scale well. I mainly studied subjects in history, art, and humanities, and – because I enjoyed them – had a much better experience than I otherwise might have.
Looking back, I appreciate that we take on more responsibility and mix with a wider variety of people when we grow up in the country. Whether that’s closer relationships with teachers, volunteering in the community, or playing sports with adults – it sets us up to really take on the world.
Now that I’ve moved away, it’s always a breath of fresh air to go home, visit the farm, and chill out. There’s something about being able to see the horizon that lifts a weight off your shoulders.
Studying in Melbourne
After High School, I went straight into a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne. While I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do, I wanted to get stuck into a new phase, try new things, and figure it out as I went.
My degree was a perfect fit for this as it offered a full year to try different subjects before you settle on specific areas of study. Eventually, I settled on Politics, International Studies, and Sociology, and went on to complete an extra Honours year.
While I’ve now been accepted into the Melbourne Law School and a Master of Public Policy, I’ve put further study on hold while I work and take a break from study.
Uni isn’t everything
While valuable, I believe that a university degree can only teach you so much. I learnt the most about myself and the world by throwing myself into the different opportunities that come with moving away from home. For me, University was a great base for so many other things than just study.
During my degree, I lived on campus at Ormond College. There, I got involved in everything from event management to managing publications and getting involved in student politics. Outside of College and University, I worked random jobs and volunteered with the United Nations and Everton Football Club in the United Kingdom. Through all of that, I’ve met people from all walks of life, from all over the world, and with a variety of goals.
Basically – degrees are great and might help you get a job, but it’s the other experiences that you’ll remember the most and that will make you into the person you want to be (and the person people will want to hire!).
While I was studying, I began working in politics to support Members of Parliament. I’ve since worked with the Country Education Partnership, and I’m about to go back into politics as a Policy Advisor in the Parliament of Victoria.
I’ve always taken it one step at a time and kept myself open to new opportunities. At some point, I do want to go back and study for a higher degree. But there’s no rush.
I’m a big believer in trying as many things as you can before settling on a pathway. Meet new people, try new things, go to new places, and don’t close yourself off from anything. Sometimes, being nervous just means you’re excited.
However, don’t burn yourself out during Year 12 or afterwards. We all need to find ways to balance things out. Don’t take yourself too seriously, make sure you still go to parties during Year 12, and look after yourself.
Lastly – if you need help while at University or another institution, don’t be afraid to ask – you never know what might be on offer! I struggled to make ends meet, but my university and residential college were extremely helpful with scholarships, financial aid, and employment opportunities. None of that would’ve been offered unless I was upfront and honest with my situation.