While at Hale School in Perth, Yale Cheng was taught to seize every opportunity that came his way. And once he hit college, the opportunities just kept coming.
‘I honestly thought Trinity was just a place to sleep and study.’
For many students unfamiliar with Trinity College and its community, this is a common misconception. For Yale Cheng, he knew he wanted to study at the University of Melbourne, so looked into accommodation options, and landed on Trinity College, without really knowing what the place was all about.
Going in with few expectations, Yale soon discovered that Trinity was a community of friends and a place where the opportunities are endless. In fact, it reminded him of the community that he’d recently left behind in Perth.
‘All these clubs on offer here, the sport opportunities, the music opportunities – it pretty much was the Hale (school) experience again, which I was really glad about … I'm really happy with how many opportunities I get day-to-day here.’
Growing up in Perth, Yale attend Hale School – where students are taught to make the most of every opportunity presented to them, both inside and outside of the classroom.
So, coming to Trinity, Yale was primed to make the most of his college experience.
‘You can't not be involved at Trinity,’ says Yale.
‘Even formal hall – everyone puts on their [academic] robe, you sit with people you're not too familiar with and meet new people … and just have a conversation. It’s really, really nice.’
It’s that kind of welcoming environment that made the transition from Perth high school student to Melbourne undergraduate just that bit easier.
Though Yale was keen to be independent the moment he left home (‘I’m an only child, so I'm sort of always trying to get away from my parents!’), the journey was no less daunting.
‘Moving-in day was pretty emotional ... I’d never been away from home for more than a few weeks,’ says Yale.
But he soon realised everyone was in the same boat.
‘Everyone was so friendly and I found a couple of really good mates pretty quickly.’
Even after having his first semester interrupted by COVID, returning temporarily to Perth, Yale walked back into Semester 2 as though he’d never left.
‘I was really worried that, being away for Semester 1, I’d come back and everyone would’ve made new friend groups,’ says Yale. ‘But seriously, everyone was so friendly ... I had my good mates … and having good SCs [student coordinators] I could talk to, Jack and Celia, made it easier. They were really good to me and just such nice people.’
Upon his return to college Yale got involved in things like the soccer team, Juttoddie [Trinity’s steeplechase], and the Dialectic Society. ‘It’s really cool to be part of a club that’s fully student-run. It’s a great leadership opportunity.’
It’s also a great opportunity to be immersed in the history of the College, with some of Trinity’s clubs and societies dating back to the turn of the 20th century. (The Trinity College Dialectic Society alone was founded 1877.)
‘Trinity's been around for a while,’ smiles Yale.
‘You know you're becoming part of something when you come here, which I find really, really nice … I think tradition is really what holds the culture together.’
It’s a tradition that he hopes future Hale graduates will get to experience.
‘I'd love to see more faces from Hale! I’d really like to see [more students] branch out and travel over [to Melbourne].’
Entering Trinity College, Yale thought it was a place to just sleep and study. But what does he think now?
‘I cannot imagine uni without college now.’