After finishing his VCE at Melbourne Grammar School, Palawa man Tom Hunt-Smith took a detour while he figured out what to study. It wasn’t long before he landed at Trinity, and now recognises that college is teaching him skills for life.
‘Every discussion I’ve ever had with mum about uni, has always been topped off with an anecdote about her time at Trinity,’ Tom says. ‘There’s always been pre-existing connection that was fostered from an early age through mum and my grandfather who’s also a Trinitarian.’
So, although Tom was destined for Trinity there was a dilemma.
‘I applied and got in but was also accepted into a film degree course at another uni.’ He chose the latter, but soon not only realised film wasn’t his future direction, he also had a bad case of FOMO.
‘I found I was living life vicariously through my friends who were at Trinity.’
Tom is now in his second year studying commerce at the University of Melbourne and living on campus at Trinity College.
‘My mum is a great believer in the saying – ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and I think that holds very true for a community like Trinity where you are constantly immersed in social interaction every day.’
Tom thinks the melting pot of diverse backgrounds at Trinity is an important part of everyone feeling comfortable in their own skin.
‘No matter where you are in terms of your background, there is always someone that you will feel comfortable with here. It’s such a great place because you are supported no matter who you are and what you want to do.’
‘I used to be quite introverted, but Trinity is doing a great job in bringing me out of myself.’
Trinity has also helped Tom embrace his heritage.
‘I’ve always identified as Indigenous,’ Tom explains. ‘Within my family, there’s a quest for excellence in everything we do to try to represent our community and make a difference. There’s a clear and established Indigenous community here [at Trinity] and it’s something we can have to engage in conversation about our culture.’
With his Indigenous roots firmly grounded in Palawa country in North Eastern Tasmania, Tom was both delighted and surprised to meet another person from the same region at an orientation activity for the Indigenous community within Trinity earlier this year.
‘Not many people have heard of the Palawa so it was very exciting to our share stories.’
Walking on Palawa country, in addition to visiting other Indigenous communities throughout Australia is something Tom’s family does as much as possible.
It’s also what led him to pursue his career in photography.
‘I’ve always been obsessed with cameras. When I was 15, we went to Cape Leveque [Western Australia] and I was standing there taking photos just staring at the form of the red rock and columns. It was a defining moment.’
Tom now has his own photography business specialising in architecture and fashion and sees his commerce degree and life at Trinity as a way to help him strengthen his future dreams and aspirations.
‘When I’m working as a photographer, I need to communicate with people all the time to make the best shots. If you’re socially engaged like we are at Trinity, you learn these skills without even realising it.’
One of Tom’s goals is to go out and photograph as much as the Australia as possible. ‘I want to be documentative on country. For people to connect with the land through my images.’