Something Old and New

Image: UQ Market Day by Rachael Higgins

Enticed by the promise of Orientation Week freebies and activities, University of Queensland Market Day became a family affair. Never mind that my brothers and sister-in-law are all students at the Queensland University of Technology, with their own O-Week activities to attend. The reputation of UQ O-Week Market Day was apparently notorious across the city. In anticipation of a crowded campus, we hopped on an early ferry to beat the rush of students. Arriving at the UQ Ferry Terminal, walking up the path towards the Great Courtyard, all was quiet. It seemed our plan to beat the crowd had worked.

As we reached the Great Courtyard, stalls aligned the perimeter, club representatives were handing out flyers in an attempt to recruit new members. People were milling around in every direction. It was as if the entire population of Cairns had congregated in one quadrangle. Stunned, I took in the scene from what appeared to be a battle of Zorb Sumo Wrestling to the picturesque heritage buildings merging with modern day cafes, shops and culture. After a brief moment, not knowing which way to turn, one of my brothers gave me a gentle nudge and said:

“This is your uni, lead the way.”

Market day was only one event, in a long string of events, allowing me to develop a deeper connection to the University of Queensland. The most important aspect is my passion for writing and the desire to mould my skill into something great. Creative writing has been a passion and developing the talent of mine since I was 15. One high school English assignment was to complete an illustrated children’s book relaying a message of morality regarding current social issues. The topic I picked was a combination of racism, bullying and the need for tolerance and acceptance. Then, titled Silver, the story was about a litter of kittens; three little tomcats who were all the same colour and one tiny silver tabby she-cat (named Silver). The assignment was a success, and indeed the beginning of the road leading me to the University of Queensland.

In 2015, I graduated from James Cook University in Cairns with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Optimistic that I would enter a writing/editing career, I applied to every entry-level vacancy I found. The results were all the same. We acknowledge your qualification but recommend you undertake further study and/or industry experience. I had reached a Catch-22. So, I started up englishliterary.net, a WordPress blog to function as a creative diary and portfolio of my written work.

Eventually, I began to rethink my career path. In the 2015 mid-year intake, again at James Cook University, I found myself in a Graduate Law program. I plodded along for three semesters until I realised that this was not the career path I wanted to pursue. I was yearning for a creativity that felt lost to me, which led to one final step before I made it to the University of Queensland.

Mid-year intake 2017, I commenced a Graduate Creative Industries program at Central Queensland University, Cairns. The course was quite broad, as with the BA degree. My attraction to the course was that the assessment could be any creative project relevant to each individual student’s discipline. The project could also be a resurrection of a past creative project. It was then I remembered Silver. Upon the approval of my project proposal, I revamped Silver. Silver became The Lonely Kitten and was once again a success, leading me to graduate from the CQ University Graduate Certificate in Creative Industries with Distinction. This was when I found the University of Queensland, Graduate Certificate in Writing, Editing and Publishing program, with industry experience included.

My brother was right, the University of Queensland is my university, my chance to succeed in a career I am passionate about. It had certainly been a journey and a learning curve to make it this far. During the short time, I have been associated with UQ a connection of hope, solidarity and opportunity has formed. The Lonely Kitten has once again been transformed, to Silver’s Adventure, with the collaboration of an artist for professional illustrations. Upon graduation from UQ in July 2018, I hope to become another success story of the University of Queensland Alumni. An old passion for reading and writing was indeed the start. UQ will be my new professional beginning, and truly nothing is more exciting than the success of a dream.

Rachael Higgins is an Alumni Friends intern, and a soon-to-be Writing, Editing and Publishing graduate. As graduation looms ever nearer, she is preparing to venture to the UK for a career opportunity in primary education.