Not just a piece of paper; skills beyond the degree

Have you ever thought of the successes and impact we made in life that were directly or indirectly facilitated by people around us or the environment we live in? Without them, we may never have made it through.  

A thought struck me when I was on my way home after a long night of studying and assignments rushing in the library. I was in the night shuttle, filled with students like me, tired and  going home after a long day of studying, hoping to achieve a better academic future. After dropping everyone off along the way, each departure  ended with a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘have a good one!’ to the night shuttle drivers. Simple gestures like these really got me thinking, even though studying is an individual responsibility, sometimes we are well supported by many people, including the Night Shuttle drivers! We usually study for exams and assignments late at night and they are the ones who help drive us home safely. It’s rewarding to see the students, or future leaders of the world, are capable of recognising and appreciating the local communities around them, exemplifying connectedness with a sense of kindness. This is an example of being Community Ready, which is one of five University of Newcastle Graduate Attributes that outline the skills, the work force readiness, that students gain beyond their degrees.  

A picture with Murray, one of the night shuttle security officers, before going home after a night study with friends  

As graduation ceremonies approach it’s a good time to highlight these Graduate Attributes so that we understand the uniqueness that we bring when we apply for jobs and going forward into the future. Being a University of Newcastle student means we are trained to be Culturally Responsive – we apply learnt cultural knowledge to provide equal opportunities where we can embrace the benefits of inclusiveness and diversity. We value and honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. As someone who’s in a healthcare degree, I have my fair share of learning the culture and history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, embracing culturally affirming environments and respectful relationships across diverse groups in Australia and around the world.  

A picture with Omotola, a good friend of mine who’s working with the university as well. Supporting and motivating each other to work towards our goals in life has never been better 

To execute that, it is important to be Connected Leaders – being clear communicators who are self-aware and conscious of those around them, not afraid to show vulnerability. Fortunately, being able to work with the University of Newcastle alongside my studies has made me experience the importance of clear communication within a team. By bringing my experience as a student to the table, I was able to translate my thoughts and creativity into idea pitching and eventually bringing projects like this article into fruition to help support other students. Of course, in the years of studying at the University of Newcastle, we exercise and learn professionalism and ethical judgement to communicate with influence. Therefore, every project I produce and class I attend, I present and negotiate persuasively, lead and participate in groups and use initiative and judgement to organise my work and others – all skills that I will need in any job.   

Ultimately, being a contributing member of this University that is Shaped By Industry means we are taught to be creative, entrepreneurial, adaptive, resilient and agile for our future career opportunities and life ambitions. We see this come to life every day in those who teach us in our various fields. With all our strengths and skills highlighted we can then use them to Create Solutions by staying curious, being critical thinkers and collaborators, using our individualised ability to analyse situations and data, interpret scenarios and gather evidence to create solutions for an uncertain world to make it a place we want to live in.  

Omotola, Gabe, Luka and I working on a project together  

At the end of the day, life is a journey designed to disconnect us from our ego.  Every success or impact we have made, there’s someone who helped us get there. Being open to different cultures cultivates a respectful community environment, striving to be a better communicator connects us to being better leaders and our ability to be creative and entrepreneurial subsequently helps us create new solutions in this uncertain climate.  

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