Will Smith's high school teachers helped him find the ideal uni course to match his interests, while a college scholarship gave him the space to thrive while studying.
Will wanted to study science at university. Well, at least he thought so.
In Year 12 at Kambrya College, his English and maths teachers got him thinking about what he really wanted to do. ‘In my maths class, I was always talking about philosophy and asking random questions,’ says Will, admitting that he didn’t do much of his actual maths work. His teacher patiently answered all his questions, fueling Will’s love of philosophical musings.
In Year 12, he also had to read I for Isobel as part of his studies – a book that delves into childhood trauma and its lasting impacts. ‘I hated [the book] at the start and found it hard to understand,’ says Will, but soon he became drawn into the text and found the sociological and psychological concepts intriguing.
When Will got his ATAR, he realised he could get into science or arts, so decided to combine his love of science with the humanities, and chose to apply for a psychology degree. ‘That's how I fell into psychology,’ he explains. ‘I then realised that [psychology] is very philosophical in its nature as well, in terms of the mind and body, so I added philosophy to my studies. It just fit my personality.’
With his university studies sorted (Will successfully got into the University of Melbourne), next came the challenge of deciding where to live.
He began commuting from Berwick but found the travel tiring. Will – a Wiradjuri man – began to spend a lot of time at Murrup Barak, the Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development on the university campus, and was often found snoozing on the couches between classes, exhausted from studying, football training and commuting. Realising that travel was taking its toll, someone at Murrup Barak asked if Will knew anything about the on-campus colleges. He didn’t, but was quickly introduced to a representative from Trinity College who helped him secure a scholarship. Soon, instead of travelling 1.5 hours to get to university, all Will needed to do was walk next door and he was there.
It then didn’t take long for Will to fill those hours that would have been spent commuting with other activities. He played football and joined Trinity College’s First Nations committee, which offers a safe and supportive space for students who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and engages and educates the entire student body about First Nations cultures – including members of the committee themselves. ‘I'm not the most educated in Aboriginality in general,’ says Will. ‘But I’m very passionate about it and passionate about self-identifying. We all have different knowledge and I have tonnes of stuff to learn.’
Will also loves that there are plenty of other committees, sports and activities at Trinity, and that everyone is encouraged to have a go. ‘If I want to try out for the choir or try out for the rugby team, I can do that in the same day almost. And there's no stigma attached to it at all.’
He also enjoys living in the big city. ‘[Berwick] is a good spot, but I did feel suffocated sometimes. It felt like a bit of a bubble,’ he says. ‘Melbourne is so beautiful. The public transport is amazing. I love the suburbs – I'm obsessed with North Melbourne and Brunswick. I love Yarraville and some of the suburbs out in the west, and Carlton is also really nice,’ he says, rattling off a list of his favourite Melbourne suburbs.
Though he’s happy to have moved, he credits his time at Kambrya for setting him up for success in Melbourne. ‘Kambrya offered a lot of good guidance, good teachers, good friends and good people,’ he says. ‘Going to a public school meant I got to meet a multitude of people with different socioeconomic statuses, personalities and cultures. And now, living in Melbourne, which is a very culturally diverse place, it's really prepared me for that.’
Living at Trinity College was the icing on the cake. ‘I feel so grateful to Trinity for giving me the opportunity to live on campus, which has been amazing. There’s so much academic support, friends and sport, and I'm in the heart of the city. University is a literal gate away and the facilities are fantastic.’ One of the best parts? Friends. Just like the people he still stays in touch with from Kambrya, Will is sure that his college friends will be with him for life.
Interested in applying for a scholarship at Trinity? Find out more.