From the moment Lilly Hannock stepped onto ANU campus, she knew it was the place for her.
Having grown up in Port Macquarie, Lilly didn’t have any friends or family in Canberra. The newly opened secondary school she attended was small - she was one of only 38 students in her Year 12 cohort – and none of them went on to study in Canberra. But after attending a bustling open day in her final year of school, she already felt welcomed.
“I was just struck by how friendly everyone was, and the on campus life,” Lilly says.
“On campus life was something that really appealed. And the first-year guarantee just put the icing on the cake...It felt really inclusive, because everyone gets a bed.”
After moving into Warrumbul Lodge in her first year, Lilly wasted no time in getting involved, first as a First Year Arts Representative for the lodges, and later as a Social Officer and Senior Resident.
In this last role, Lilly was responsible for watching over more than 120 fellow residents, a task she admits was, “a lot of work.” Nonetheless, she still enjoyed herself, taking particular pride in her work coordinating the lodge’s Orientation Week in her 3rd year.
Besides the opportunity to live independently, Lilly had another motivation in wanting to move to Canberra: politics.
“I’d always been interested in politics, and I thought if you were interested in politics, Canberra was the place to be.”
In 2014, when Lilly commenced at ANU, she was especially excited by the prospect of studying the new Bachelor of Philosophy, Politics and Economics, which had then only recently started up. While she appreciated all three disciplines in the degree, Lilly found her philosophy courses on social and global justice to be the most thought provoking.
“They covered topics you might never have thought about previously, and moral ideas that challenged your own preconceptions and values.”
“Politics was great, and economics was the most challenging part of the degree for me, but I think philosophy was something I wasn’t expecting. I learnt a lot more and became more well-rounded than I expected.”
In addition to her academic pursuits, Lilly also took the time to immerse herself in the world of student politics. In her second year, she served as an elected General Representative on the ANU Students Association (ANUSA) and was pleasantly surprised by the capacity of student leaders to create real change.
“I didn’t expect to have so many opportunities to make an impact. The ANU council really takes into account the ANUSA motions, and what the ANUSA President thinks. It’s nice to actually see real change happen.”
Lilly counts the introduction of online voting for student elections as one the most consequential changes which she helped bring about as a student representative.
But even outside of this role she took an active interest in student politics, notably by successfully advocating for an increase in the number of Senior Residents across The ANU residential lodges.
Eager to enter the broader political world as soon as she could, Lilly got in touch with her local MP in her first year and managed to secure an internship. Four years later, she still loves working as a staffer at Parliament House, and plans to continue working there while she finishes a second degree in Law.
“I love staff work. It’s really interesting, it changes so frequently, and it gives you a chance to see different parts of the country.”
“It’s an exciting job. Helping constituents is particularly rewarding.”
Nonetheless, Lilly currently has no plans to make use of the talents she developed in student politics at a higher level.
“I enjoy working in politics. But no part of me wants to be a politician.”
Looking back on her studies, Lilly says that it’s the capacity to reflect upon the motivation of others that she’ll cherish the most. Now at the end of her PPE degree, Lilly is hoping to take that reflective ability with her into her professional life.
“It’s always best to take a step back and understand where a value or perception is coming from and understand the deeper level where it originates. I think that’s the best lesson I’ve learnt.