My “adult” life has been an evolving journey of finding what motivates me.
I studied Arts as a Monash undergraduate, majoring in creative writing and linguistics, with a year spent on exchange in New York (Columbia University) and an extra year doing Honours research in literature. After a few years in the workplace, I then did a Masters of Environment (Science) at University of Melbourne.
My professional experience has ranged from food journalism in New York to market research in Melbourne, brand consulting in LA, being a Director for a global health NGO, a social impact consultant and teaching environmental sustainability at the University of Cambridge. I recently moved back from the UK and am now combining grassroots project support as Impact Manager for an Indigenous conservation trust in the remote NT, with top-down influence as Program Advisor with the Monash Sustainable Development Institute – and a few other fun projects on the side.
It was certainly a whirlwind. From the first moment I arrived, I was “hook, line and sinker” involved in every single part of college life that I could fit into the day. This meant participating in the college musical and sports teams, performing at formal dinner, raising money for charities and representing Mannix at the National Association of Australian University Colleges conference – as well as the carefree parts of college life that I now look back on in wonderment. Choosing to shave part of my head? Of course, why not. Breathing in so much foam during a foam party function that I ended up in hospital? Turns out sometimes too much enthusiasm can be unhealthy (but don’t worry, no lasting physical damage)!
I absolutely loved the diversity of activities and having different conversations with people from across the college. It’s a unique experience, and set up many friendships that I still hold dear today.
Mannix is a great opportunity to find your crowd as you move away from home, gain some independence and enter whole new friendship groups. My main advice would be to spend this time identifying what kinds of activities and people match your own interests and values, and avoid the trap of trying to be all things to all people. This is your chance for experimenting and learning more about yourself which will set you up for whatever post-Mannix life holds. It’s a time to develop your sense of self (while also having lots of fun, of course!). Make sure you listen to your instincts and lessons along the way to gradually build up a stronger sense of who you are and where you choose to put your boundaries.
I’m food-obsessed and, at one stage, had a side hustle making workplace lunches for colleagues and special occasion cakes for friends. Now, this mostly results in an unwieldy collection of cookbooks for bedtime reading.
I also play Aussie Rules with an amateur footy club, which is a fantastic community of fearless women and regularly pushes me outside my comfort zone in the best way possible.
Otherwise, I tend to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors: skiing, hiking, diving and camping. Last year, my fiance and fellow Mannix alum, Lewis Fry, and I spent a few months in a camper van exploring Western Australia as our grand return from the UK – exactly what was needed after a hard few years of Covid complications! Since then, a real perk of my job has been taking regular trips to remote communities where I’ve learned to drive through croc-filled rivers and cook kangaroo tails in a ground oven.
It has been fantastic to see how much the college culture has evolved and matured in order to support students in a variety of different ways – including this mentoring program. It has been so delightful to connect with current students and turn over big questions with them about their future direction and purpose. It has taken me a long time to find that special place in my career where there’s an alignment of what the world needs, what I’m good at, what I love and what I can get paid for – so here’s hoping I can help speed up that process for others.
I was an unsuccessful applicant to the Great British Bake Off in 2020. I spent a few months during covid times pumping out miso caramel eclairs, Nutella braided brioche stars, olive and harissa ciabatta, chocolate and peanut butter tarts, passionfruit shortbread and almond puff pastry galettes. Despite not making the final cut, those in covid lockdown nearby still got to enjoy the fruits of my practice baking shared out of my kitchen window in Oxford, so not all was lost.