University is a time to explore your interests and discover new experiences. It was with these aims that Joe came from Melbourne to study at ANU in 2013. “I wanted a residential experience.
I thought it was important that I was really thrown into university life and after a gap year, I felt that moving back home would be a bit of a step backwards.” With a self-confessed love for all things politics, moving to Canberra, a city at the heart of power and government, offered a clear advantage. “I wanted to go somewhere that would give me the best opportunity to explore those interests.”
Moving into Bruce Hall and becoming a part of the wider ANU community, Joe was amazed at the diversity of people he met living on campus, and the many activities he shared with them. “I was surrounded daily by people from all across Australia, from major cities to country towns that don’t make it onto the map. When your neighbours study everything from the classics to astrophysics to engineering, you end up with a range of perspectives and friends.”
You learn many lessons along the way at university. One is not to be afraid to change direction as you discover new interests and new opportunities. ”I started at ANU studying only an Arts degree and on my first day decided to add Commerce. Half way through my first year I transferred again into Arts and Law after sitting in on some of my friend’s Torts lectures and enjoying them.”
For Joe the combination of a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Law has been a beneficial and engaging one. In Arts he found subjects that fostered his curiosity, and encouraged him to inquire about why history, politics, and society have developed the way they have. The breadth of knowledge and capacity for critical inquiry developed in Arts proved indispensable in his legal studies.
Over six years Joe came to appreciate the role of serendipity, that otherwise innocuous events in hindsight opened up wonderful new opportunities. A chat to a friend at the inter-hall spelling bee led to his first job in law, and a flyer outside college led him to publish an essay. Behind this serendipity lies a valuable lesson for Joe. “Being open to the people and opportunities around you is probably the most important thing that I’ve learnt. This is especially true in Canberra where you have this coming together of really interesting and interested people.”
One opportunity Joe fondly recalls is the Washington Internship. “It was an amazing experience”. A unique opportunity that helped seal his decision to choose ANU, he found himself in the US following the 2016 Presidential Election, a dramatic time politically and culturally. “It was an electric atmosphere where we experienced a true political shift and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
What does the future hold for Joe? After graduation a break, travelling across Europe, visiting family and walking the Camino de Santiago trail in the Spanish countryside. But in 2019 he’ll return to Canberra, the city where he found independence and opportunities, to work as an associate at the ACT Supreme Court. “The move to Canberra was one of the best choices I’ve ever made for myself. ANU is one of the best universities in Australia, and being in Canberra there are so many chances to further your study or your career.”