More than just a free T-shirt: what we learned from Open Day

By Alex Virgo

Do you remember how nervous you were as you neared the end of year 12? Do you remember all of the decisions you had to make about your ‘imminent future’ and the stress you were under to make the ‘right’ choice? Well, volunteering at Open Day reminded me of all these feelings, but I was also reminded of the sheer excitement I felt during that time.

Throughout the day I met enthusiastic students, whose eyes light up at the very idea they would able to choose their own subjects, gain independence and make new friends. It made me reflect on my own journey and remember the anticipation and delight I felt to be finishing high school and heading off to university.

On the day, I was assisting in the Law and Criminology information room, along with fellow students and academics. While we were anticipating a slow start to the day, our first visitors came racing in at exactly 10am and were already prepared with long lists of questions and enthusiastic smiles! I was amazed by the passion and determination many of the students had, some of whom were only in year 10. Many had bold ideas and knew exactly why La Trobe University was the right choice for them. It was completing inspiring.

Many of the students and their parents were particularly interested in my own experiences at La Trobe Law School. This gave me a fantastic opportunity to share my goals, ambitions and made me reflect on the reasons I was studying law. I explained that I had originally applied to La Trobe because of their strong focus on community involvement and dedication to social justice; I wanted to study law so that I could make a difference. I was also attracted to La Trobe’s diversity and have found life on campus to be welcoming and completely inclusive.

La Trobe’s strong emphasis on social justice has allowed me to choose electives in areas I am particularly interested in, such as Human Rights Law, and has given me a chance to take part in a variety of unique opportunities. This semester I am undertaking a Clinical Legal Education placement at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, allowing me to work directly with asylum seekers for a cause I am extremely passionate about. If it were not for La Trobe’s strong relationship with this organization, and others, I would not have been able to get this valuable, hands-on experience.

I would absolutely recommend everyone getting involved in at least one Open Day during their studies; I can assure you that you’ll walk away with more than just a free T-shirt! Sharing my journey with students allowed them to envision what is possible by studying at La Trobe and to imagine what their future may look like. It also made me acknowledge what I have achieved and, at the end of the day, I left feeling very proud to be a student at La Trobe University.

As I am nearing the end of my degree, I have been looking for ways to get involved at university and make the most of my final semesters. Open Day also gave me this chance and allowed me to connect with other students and meet a number of academics who were more than willing to offer me advice. By making these connections, I have subsequently been able to secure a volunteer position with the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, which underlines how practically helpfully it can be to participate in university life beyond the classroom.

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