Degree: Bachelor of Social Work (Honours)
How did you come to do a Bachelor of Social Work?
I didn’t think I’d ever be at university, I thought it was something fancier people did who had more money. I did Open Foundation rather than coming straight from school. My course is well suited to me, it’s flexible and adaptable to changes in my life. I can defer and come back to continue studying as I need without having to rush, and I love that. Studying part-time and deferring when I need to means that I can engage with my classes more. I want to be there and I’m more intentional. I also work for and outside of the Uni, which I wouldn’t be able to do in the same capacity if I was studying full-time.
Is there any specific direction you want to pursue after study?
I wanted to build a community centre that was more inclusive than what I knew, but so much has changed since then. Because there’s such a breadth to what you can do with social work, I’m open to where it can go. I say my blinkers are on so if there’s an opportunity that arises along the way, I’ll go there. I’m currently contracted to deliver respectful relationships education in high schools, which is social work related, but I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do that had I not taken chances in other ways to become a facilitator while I was studying.
I’m passionate about equity and have become more interested in the impact of shame on men and boys and how that can impact women and children later in life. There’s a lot of room in that space and I’m interested in being there. Essentially, I’m looking for ways to think about how we treat men and boys socially and culturally and how that then impacts men and boys as well as women, children and families.
What drives your passion?
Personal experiences. Being around different people and hearing their stories sparked a lot of passion and interest, but I was also driven by seeing a lot of gaps in the current research. There are things we could explore more of or bring together with other subjects in the area to make them more rounded. While researching mental health and other support services I thought there gaps in here… what is it that we are missing and why aren’t we speaking about them more? What do we need to do differently, and how?
One of the things I believe as a facilitator is to allow people to voice their opinions even if they’re different to what you’re teaching. You might not validate the opinion or say its right, but you don’t want to shame people. I was in a classroom for respectful relationships education and there was a young man who was quite angry and sometimes said controversial things. He was triggered by something said by his classmates and asked to leave because he was feeling angry. I sat there for a second as it’s not my role as a facilitator to leave after students, but I ended up following him.
He said, “I don’t need you to walk me to the office miss” and I said, “I know, I just want to make sure you’re okay”. We walked together and had a long conversation and at the end of it he said, “the thing is miss, everybody thinks I’m tough but I’m actually not, I’m really soft”. The way he said it was as though he’d never told anyone else in his life. It gets me every time. That’s just one story speaking to something that’s much bigger. Providing the space for someone to say something so vulnerable can change someone’s life and allow them to be who they truly are.
Tell me about being a recipient of the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program.
I applied two days before the scholarship closed because people pushed me to. I believed it was only for smarter people, people with more money and resources. This program has opened my eyes and mind through connections, exposure, and experiences. What I would say to others is if you don’t think you’re eligible, but you’ve done good things in your life for other people, apply! Don’t let the fact that it seems prestigious put you off. It’s a values-based scholarship based on four instrumental values to me. I only thought I aligned with one in the beginning, but now I’ve grown to learn and become passionate about the others too.
Anything else you want to share?
I wouldn’t be where I am without access to internal and external support systems. I talk about ‘your cup’. If there’s too many things in your cup and it’s spilling over, you need to find a way to pour things out. One of those ways is by seeking external supports and having plans in place for when stresses rise. I encourage others to access internal and external supports, even if nothing is drastically wrong. A third-party support that’s not involved in anything can be so beneficial. Support looks different for everybody but that’s what’s worked for me. Also, crucial information to know – you don’t have to be directly affected to utilise support services. These can be accessed on behalf of others, or even just to ask hey, what can I do to help?
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