For the past eight years, Benjamin Mossop has navigated a turbulent academic journey at the Australian National University (ANU). A time marked by triumphs and tribulations. Having graduated with an International Relations degree in 2019, he will now receive his Bachelor of Criminology (Honours) testamur this July.
Initially undertaking a science degree specialising in virology, Ben now wryly notes, “that would have been really good considering the pandemic in hindsight.”
But being stuck in a lab for 15 to 20 hours a week didn’t appeal to him.
“This left me feeling quite lost because I hadn’t thought about what I would do except science,” Ben says.
“So I switched to an arts degree with CASS (College of Arts and Social Sciences) to explore various subjects until I found something I actually wanted to do. Structuring my studies in this way allowed me to find my passion for Criminology. I paired this with an International Relations (IR) degree to make the most of ANU's flexible study options,” he adds.
Fast forward to 2020, Ben completed his IR degree and is ready for his next big challenge. He saves hard and is excited to embark on an exchange program - he’s off to New Zealand!
“I took advantage of ANU’s connections with Auckland University, to not only save money but also explore the fantastic outdoor lifestyle offered there” he says.
But it all came to a grinding halt.
“Just two weeks into my study program, the escalating COVID crisis forced me to return home," he recalls. It was a shock because while all of Australia had shut down, you could still buy toilet paper and go clubbing over there.”
Back home, Ben continued his Criminology studies at ANU, particularly relishing the classes that incorporated sociology, exploring the societal causes behind criminal behaviour over sterile, impersonal explanations science seemed to offer. His fascination with this perspective is evident in his thesis, an exploration of the influence of the natural environment on missing persons' behaviours in the ACT.
However, his academic pursuits took an unexpected detour in 2021, when a severe medical condition forced him to pause his education.
“I spent the remainder of that year focusing on my health and attempting to regain the things lost through my sickness. I also struggled to bring myself back to the point I was academically before my deferral. However, through the support of my thesis supervisor and family, I pushed through while also starting my first real job in the Australian Public Service, working four days a week.”
Completing his thesis was no easy task.
“I am very grateful for the support my supervisor provided, and I am certain that without them, I would not have been able to achieve what I have. Leaving the ANU, I feel I have not only broadened my knowledge as an academic, but it has also allowed me to test myself on a number of occasions, and that experience is equally valuable to me.”
Ben's ambitions remain firmly rooted in academia. He hopes to return to ANU for a Ph.D. in a related field, nurturing a long-term dream of one day becoming a professor. But for now, Ben thinks, “I need some more real life experience before I come back and do that. I don't want to end up being one of those people that's overqualified and underemployed.”