“What I loved about studying (at Eastern) was that it was very relevant but also really engaged me personally. We talked about where has God gifted you? What skills has he given you? Where can you serve him? I absolutely loved it and I loved having a smaller class because it was really personal and you got to know people really well. The lecturers were very real, and open and honest about their own faith journey as well. I just loved it because it was a very positive learning environment, it was really personal and we just had our faith incorporated into everything.
I did YITS, which was a gap year course designed for 17 – 21 year olds. There were about 40 of us and we spent a lot of time reflecting on where we’d been in our lives, what shaped us, who were the people who had influenced us and then we looked at where we want to serve God in the world.
It was a great space after the Year 12 to process the questions: Who am I? Who is God? Where does he want me to be? It helped me discern how I wanted to live my life. It was a space where I thought about what job do I want to pursue? Where do I see myself in the world? It helped me discover my joy and passion for working with young people, so it helped to really think about wanting to be a youth worker, to walk alongside young people and help them explore life. It impacted me because it was a space to stop and think, “What do I want to do with my life? Who do I want to be?”
So after that I decided to do the BA in Youth Studies. I had been going to do Health
Sciences, which I had picked because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. We had a class in the YITS year that talked about vocation. The question became what is a passion and what is a need I see, and how can those meet? For me that was to pursue youth work as I realised how much I wanted to walk alongside young people, support them in life and provide them with options.
The reason I decided to study further at (Eastern) was because the learning was very holistic, it involved me as a person, it included my faith journey and it included who I was. What I had experienced in the one-year course made me think “Okay, this is really personal learning, really open learning, a lot of conversation, a lot of discussion.” So the reason I wanted to continue at (Eastern) rather than another tertiary institution was because it was very personal. Our classes were small and it meant I had a voice to contribute which was welcomed and encouraged, and I loved the personal aspect with the lecturer sitting there in the room with you sharing some of their story. What I loved is that they didn’t give answers but encouraged us to come up with our own answers. It was very much the “how” of learning, not just the “what”. They weren’t talking at us but inviting us into dialogue and talking about how we’re going to take what we’re learning and implement that in our lives.
That was what I loved about (Eastern). It was very challenging, very encouraging and very welcoming of my own views and contributions.
I was already doing a youth internship at my church and because I was studying youth work they asked if I wanted to become a youth worker. So I had an amazing opportunity to take what I had learnt into a career. I also worked for a period as a Schools’ Presenter doing values based workshops on topics like bullying, self-esteem, drugs and alcohol. My lecturer was the CEO of that organisation and he introduced me to the idea which was amazing because I hadn’t really considered that as an option. It all just came together because I was at Eastern studying youth work.”