Trinity College grounds

Charlie Sutterby on what makes living at Trinity College so special

For first-year student Charlie Sutterby, getting into Trinity felt like she'd been given a golden ticket. Here she explains why.

Charlie Sutterby

2020 was a bit of a letdown for a lot of students. Especially those in Year 12 who missed out on many events and interactions, and even their school formals. This was the case for Charlie Sutterby at Lauriston Girls’ School in Victoria. As theatre captain, she had to cancel the school musical, spent many hours at home away from friends, and didn’t get a swish end-of-year celebration to round out her schooling experience.

After she graduated, Charlie saw college as her chance to make up for all the things she missed out on. She now says one day’s worth of activities in O Week made up for everything that was turned on its head in the previous year. Charlie quickly realised that the opportunities were going to come in thick and fast at Trinity, and that there would never be a dull moment.

Here, Charlie shares what has made living at Trinity College such a special experience for her so far.

On getting involved

At Trinity, you've always got something to look forward to. The guy who lives in the room next door to me has a calendar where he writes down all the social events, and sometimes I can't believe we have three or more a week.

At first, I thought, ‘This is so overwhelming’, but now, I consider it such a big part of the whole college experience.

There’s so much variety and you get to come together with people of all different backgrounds. Every week I feel like I come away with one new person that I’m so much closer to – sometimes someone I didn’t even know the week before.

All the events and informal gatherings (like dinners, poker nights and gym sessions) make your week so much more enjoyable and take some of the pressure and anxieties off university work. It makes you feel balanced because you've got a social life and your university studies, and I think recognising that happiness balance is something you can take into your career down the track.

I love that it’s weird here if you don’t throw yourself into everything. It’s as though the more you get involved and try new things, the more you’re loved. Everyone here cares about their studies and uni grades too, which is really refreshing. The community around you encourages you to be your best self all the time.

That said, there’s no pressure to join social events if you need some ‘me time’. We’re constantly reminded by the senior students that there will always be another event and there will always be other opportunities to build friendships.

On making friends

In the first hour of arriving at Trinity I was incredibly nervous. However, I soon discovered that the sea of people I was surrounded by were just like me. I learned that we shared the same values, had the same ambitions and had the same dreams in life. But, of course, at the core of who we are, we’re all different, and that’s important too.

When you come to O Week, there's none of that high school mentality of exclusivity or hierarchy. The day you walk into Trinity, people will welcome you with open arms and it’s a fresh start for everyone. Going to college makes the transition between high school and university almost seamless because everyone is welcomed and appreciated for who they are.

I’ll never forgot one night before trivia we needed an extra person for our group. I asked my friend who we should approach to join us, and his response was, ‘I don't mind. I love everyone’. That comment is just so reflective of the whole Trinity family.

On feeling supported

I’m studying an arts degree, majoring in criminology and politics, and, being in my first year of university, I genuinely think I would struggle academically and emotionally if I didn’t have Trinity supporting and navigating me. I’ve realised that going straight from high school to somewhere like Melbourne University is a big transition and there’s nobody there to hold your hand.

I’m lucky at college though because I’m surrounded by other students studying the same thing. That means you can come together to talk about assignments and problem-solve. The result is that everyone’s grades go up. I have friends at uni who aren’t at college and they just don’t get these kinds of opportunities.

I’ve also been supported by Trinity’s academic advisor, who helped me change subjects when I wasn’t enjoying one of my classes and who has helped me map out a schedule of subjects that I’ll enjoy, taking into consideration which subjects have the best tutors and the best content.

At Trinity, everyone is so supportive of your pursuits outside college too. I’ve been encouraged to pursue performance opportunities by the staff and other students as everyone wants you to do what’s best for your future.

I feel supported in every way, shape and form, and that’s so comforting.

On securing the golden ticket

My dad studied law at the University of Melbourne as a mature age student, and I plan to follow in his footsteps when I finish my arts degree. When I was tossing up options in my final year of high school, I asked him, ‘What do you think about me applying for Trinity?’. He responded, ‘You have to go’, and told me that the students he met from Trinity College always had the kinds of friendships and opportunities that he never had as a uni student.

I remember when I got accepted, I said ‘Dad, there’s something I need to tell you’, and, as a very stoic man, he just wanted me to spit it out. When I told him, he started crying. ‘That’s the golden ticket,’ he said. ‘The people you’ll meet, the relationships you’ll make, what you’ll learn and the values that they will instill in you are going to set you up for life.’ He told me that going to Trinity would make me different to every other woman in the law field in future. There was so much excitement in his face.

Unfortunately my dad passed away late last year, but I will always remember his reaction. To know that a man of his calibre and intelligence valued this place so highly means a lot to me, and I know I’m very lucky to be here. I have his Bachelor of Laws hanging up behind my desk and I know I’ll work hard for him.

On being grateful

I went to Howqua at Lauriston in Year 9 and it was one of the best years of my life. It taught me about what’s important – having a sense of community, being active and living a healthy and positive lifestyle – and I feel like it really set me up at Trinity, as the college shares the same values. I found out about Trinity through a friend at Lauriston, and, within a few days of looking into it, I knew it was the place I wanted to go.

Now, I look out my window and genuinely think to myself, ‘I'm living in one of the most beautiful spots in the world’. I have the prettiest view and I’m right next door to uni. Sometimes I’ll be walking around and I don't even think twice about it, as it can be easy to take things for granted. But it's so nice, every once in a while, to take a moment of reflection and think, this really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This article is dedicated to my father Brett Sutterby.


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