I had a gap year between high school and tertiary education. I commenced tertiary studies in 2009 at Swinburne TAFE and completed an Advanced Diploma in Public Relations. Upon completion of my Advanced Diploma, I commenced my studies at ACU and completed my Bachelor of Business. In 2014, I took a second gap year before commencing my law degree in 2015.
For both degrees ACU was my top preference because it was a smaller university in comparison to other universities in Melbourne. I really enjoyed my first degree at ACU and I always felt I had the support required to competently engage in my studies at ACU which initially pushed ACU straight to the top of my list when choosing a university to commence my law degree.
In the end, I decided to study law at ACU because of all the universities offering a law degree it was a smaller class of students and I saw this as a benefit because it would allow all students to have a close relationship with tutors and lecturers and there would always be a strong focus on each and every student's individual learning.
I was also drawn to the law degree at ACU because of the pro bono and professional experience subject it had to offer. Encouraging students to go out and seek experience enables students to get a feel for the industry and different areas of practice. More importantly, the pro bono subject also allows students to engage in social services in the legal industry that are fundamentally guided by a concern for providing justice and support to people who are marginalised or disadvantaged in our community. I believe this to be a very important and unique experience that not many university students studying law would engage in which enables students to build on both life and professional skills.
My university experience was what I expected it to be. At times very difficult, strenuous and time consuming and at other times very fun, social and exciting. All in all university was a very rewarding experience.
I believe the university lecturers and tutors are one of the key elements of your education and time and time again, the lecturers and tutors at ACU exceeded my expectations. Always readily available to assist, always contactable and knew each student by name. One of the strongest and most appealing factors about ACU are the staff in the Thomas More Law School. Amazing and overwhelmingly supportive for any student willing to learn and in need of support.
I undertook three different types of pro bono work:
I participated in one week of work experience on the ARC List with Magistrate Anne Goldsbrough. Through this experience I was able to shadow Magistrate Goldsbrough, engage in daily discussions with her about the operation of the ARC List and experience the daily running of the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, Victorian Legal Aid and the Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) Bail program.
Volunteer presenter with the Prison Legal Education & Assistance Project (PLEA) Project. The PLEA project is a program that delivers legal education in prisons to assist inmates to proactively handle their legal cases. The organisation has over 50 active volunteers, primarily made up of law students and operates in Barwon Prison, Marnagoneet Correctional Centre, the Metropolitan Remand Centre, Melbourne Assessment Prison, Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, Port Phillip Prison, and the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct. I was a presenter on the Metropolitan Remand Centre Team and would present twice a month to anywhere between 5-15 remandees.
Participated in a two-week university pro bono intensive run by Eastern Community Legal Centre. The intensive focused on family violence and the workings of a community legal centre. Throughout the intensive we listened to guest speakers, visited the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court and spent time at the Eastern Community Legal Centre observing the daily running of a community legal centre.
The effort you put into your university degree is what you will get out of it and that all the hard work pays off, so don’t give up. The satisfaction of completing a degree and achieving your goal is an incredible high. No one ever says, I regret finishing my degree, but many say, I regret not finishing it, so put in the hard yards, enjoy the university experience and commit to getting the job done.