Trinity College grounds

How this Brissie boy’s school experience helped him build a life in Melbourne

Vaughan Marega was keen to push his comfort zone, build his network and make new friends, and an interstate move made it all possible.

For Churchie (Brisbane’s Anglican Church Grammar School) alumnus Vaughan Marega (TC 2018), moving to Melbourne was never part of the plan. Something about the University of Melbourne felt unattainable, he admits. But when his school’s Director of Service told him to give it a shot, Vaughan made a valedictory-day decision to pull together the paperwork and threw in an application.

As it turned out, he really didn’t have anything to worry about.

Come February 2018, Vaughan touched down in Melbourne to start the next chapter of his life, and has fond memories of walking through the gates of Trinity College for the first time, where he’d live for two years.

‘[Moving to Trinity] was the first decision I made as an independent adult, outside of leaving home, and I think it’s the best decision I've made so far,’ says Vaughan, who left college last year. ‘I would have really struggled to make the friends I have today if I didn’t go to Trinity. It also gave me so many opportunities to branch out and push my comfort zone – which is what I tried to do in my first year and it really gave me that self-belief that I could do bigger and better things.’

This included taking the opportunity to nurture old passions and try new things, as Vaughan signed up for rowing, soccer, swimming and the college play (in which he was pleased to land a plum lead role despite non-existent theatre experience).

‘All the students at Trinity, especially the second and third years, really encourage first-year students to get outside their comfort zone,’ he says. ‘There's no judgement. The attitude is just ‘this is an exciting time in your life, why not enjoy it?’’

Having been a prefect at Churchie, Vaughan was no stranger to taking on extracurricular activities and responsibility. In particular, he credits the school’s Director of Service – John Collins – as a mentor who helped instil his go-getter attitude and commitment to service, which Vaughan harnessed as the Churchie service captain.

‘In a way, the values instilled in students at Churchie are similar to the ones at Trinity – academic integrity and discipline, giving back to the community and enjoying the company of your friends and family – so it makes the transition to a place like Trinity relatively seamless,’ says Vaughan. ‘I took a service-minded attitude [from Churchie] to Trinity and got to take part in the Asha service trip, for example, which involved spending four weeks in India teaching students in the slums of New Delhi,’ he says. ‘We had a really great Trinity team, and it reminded me of my time at Churchie.’

During his early school years, Vaughan was also heavily involved in the Army cadets and had visions of joining the Australian Defence Force Academy, but a curiosity for commerce was also simmering in the back of his mind. Following conversations with his mum, who worked in corporate finance, the scale tipped, and Vaughan decided to venture down the commerce career path. He is now in his third year of a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in finance and management at the University of Melbourne.

Vaughan has supplemented his studies with real-world experience by taking on an internship with a Trinity College alum – which he found out about from a fellow Trinity student – and the internship has since led to another role as a junior credit analyst. This personal networking experience firmed Vaughan’s view that moving to Melbourne would help him build new connections and tap into networks outside the Brisbane ‘financial bubble’. ‘From a career perspective, I think if you really want to make it, it’s based on your contacts. So, I thought making a name for myself in a new and bigger city would be a good approach.’

It may have felt daunting at first, but looking back, Vaughan can see that his line of thinking was accurate and his courage has been rewarded. ‘It's very easy to play it safe and familiar, but it's all about believing in yourself and believing that you can take on a challenge, and it pays dividends,’ he says. ‘[By moving cities] you get to grow your network in a career sense, but more importantly, you grow your friendship groups and lifestyle, so why not experience life in a different city for a number of years? Worst case scenario you head back home, but if you do like it, you discover something you wouldn’t have otherwise.’