To celebrate World Friendship Day, alum Stephanus Hieronymus shares how Trinity helped him build long-lasting friendships, and even find his future wife.
Stephanus Hieronymus began his Trinity journey back in 2004 when he joined the February Main Foundation Studies program. Following this, he studied a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne, and concluded his studies with an honour’s degree in finance.
Moving to Melbourne from Indonesia, Stephanus faced the familiar and daunting experience of making new friends. Fortunately, at Trinity, he soon realised he had little to worry about.
‘It’s pretty easy to make friends at Trinity,’ says Stephanus. ‘You already share a common bond with the people you meet because you’re in the same situation and going through similar things. Friendships are honest and you can let your guard down knowing people don’t want anything from you but to get to know you and be friends.’
These shared experiences have allowed many students to create a family away from home at Trinity, by connecting them with people they can have fun with, study with and rely on for support. It’s not uncommon for casual interactions to grow into lasting friendships that endure well beyond the days spent at Trinity.
In Stephanus’s case, he made many good friends at Trinity who he still keeps in touch with, despite the fact they are located all over the world. Two friends in particular are extra special to him and have played important roles in his life since leaving college.
Kwok Liang Chang (TCFS 2004) is one of those good friends, and he and Stephanus have maintained a close bond for 15 years. The two met during orientation week and, from there, their friendship flourished. Throughout the years, they have been each other’s support system and have enjoyed going to the movies at Melbourne Central, dining out in Melbourne’s CBD and visiting several popular snowfields in Victoria. One of the most special milestones they shared together was celebrating Stephanus’s 2018 wedding in Melbourne to his Trinity alum wife, Wen Qi Lee. Kwok Liang showed the upmost support to his long-time friend as Stephanus’s groomsman.
Another special friend of Stephanus whose bond has also stood the test of time is Trinity alum Surene Yee (TCFS 2004). ‘I was on a student committee at Trinity where we organised events like the annual Trinity ball and other social events for students and that’s where I met Surene,’ says Stephanus. What began as two strangers working together to organise events and activities grew over many years to become a meaningful friendship that not only weathered time but also distance.
As destiny had it, Surene would go on to study at Monash University and then take a career opportunity in London. The move meant Surene wasn’t able to attend Stephanus and Wen’s wedding, however the friends made a point of meeting up in Iceland and Paris during the happy couple’s European honeymoon.
Stephanus’s Trinity love story took a slightly different tack to his friendships with Surene and Kwok Liang. Wen was in another intake at Trinity, so she and Stephanus wouldn’t cross paths until they commenced studies at Melbourne University.
‘It was at a Melbourne Uni alumni event,’ recalls Stephanus of the moment he met his now-wife. ‘We were both late and I didn’t show up until after the event finished. My friend had told me there was still a bar tab going because not many people went, so, because I was already on the road I thought I’d just show up. And then [Wen] had gone because she promised her friends she would go, even though she wasn’t feeling too well, and was late arriving too.’ The rest is history.
Between his far-flung friendships and rock-solid romance, Stephanus has shown that Trinity is much more than just an academic and living space. It’s the common ground that brings people together and weaves unwavering bonds. And on World Friendship Day, we think that’s worth celebrating.
By Vanessa Montoya