Don’t settle for anything less than what you want. Go out and immerse yourself in things you enjoy and surround yourself with people that make you the best version of yourself.
Belinda offers a simple piece of advice to her first-year self. It’s advice she has come to live by in her time at ANU studying history, sociology and commerce, whether experiencing life in Canberra, or taking her education well beyond the classroom. And it’s advice that will inspire those at ANU today, and those starting tomorrow.
"Don’t settle for anything less than what you want. Go out and immerse yourself in things you enjoy and surround yourself with people that make you the best version of yourself."
For Belinda, immersing yourself in a subject, understanding the full context and finding an emotional connection to it offers such a valuable experience. Lessons and textbooks can only go so far. The experience of this she recalls most fondly at ANU was the ANZAC Battlefields and Beyond course in 2019.
"It was by far, the best academic experience I could have had at the ANU. You can’t compare how valuable it is to be in the field."
This international study course led a group of ANU students across Australia, and then to the battlefields, memorials, and institutions in the United Kingdom, Europe and Turkey. Led by ANU Historian Professor Bruce Scates, a leading expert in the history of war and study of its commemoration, the tour far from being a pilgrimage, is an immersive and critical exploration of the cost of war, the people in war, and how we as a society remember war.
"It’s not until you physically stand on the shores of Gallipoli or in a cemetery on the Western Front that the magnitude of war truly dawns on you. Bruce has a genuine passion for sharing his knowledge and sharing how we’ve memorialised ANZAC across the world. I’m sure my friends are sick of hearing me go on about how phenomenal the trip was but it truly was a once in a lifetime experience."
Life has many competing demands. Time for work, time to study, it can be hard to find the time or the resources to enjoy the many opportunities on offer to take your studies and your ANU experience further. But it’s these experiences that make time at ANU a truly rich and often life changing one. Belinda encourages students to make the most of the support available at ANU to help students make the most of it. Helping her join the overseas study tour was the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences Study Tour and Field Trip Grant. The grant offers up to $500 and $1500 for domestic and international opportunities respectively (as at July 2021).
“The grant I received helped significantly in covering the cost of part of the trip. I think any student wanting to participate in a tour or experience should seek out all opportunities for support. It alleviates so much financial pressure and allows you to focus on the experience, making the most of enjoying yourself and learning as much as you can. Life is expensive, a harsh lesson you truly learn at university however it should never be a barrier to educational opportunities. I consider myself very fortunate to have been afforded the chance, not only to go to the ANU but to actively participate in the study tour.”
The study tour was an opportunity to make new friends, one of many in her time at ANU and in Canberra. She fondly remembers making many of those new friends in Civic, describing Canberra as feeling like a big friendly town where you quickly feel right at home.
"I felt so comfortable. I put in a lot of time and energy into making the most of university, immersing myself in activities, clubs, sports and made so many friends from all over the country. I think moving away to go to ANU was one of the biggest and best decisions I’ve ever made."
Canberra has also given Belinda a fantastic start to her career, an opportunity to really understand what it is she wants to gain out of her work, what drives her, and where she wants to be ten years from now. In final year she gained a part-time role with the Department of Defence, working in travel policy. This influenced her decision to apply successfully for a graduate role as a business analyst with Leidos.
"I’m looking forward to being challenged and pushed to succeed, a very natural continuation from how I would describe my university experience."