Staff Q&A: Karen Graham

Our TCTS administrator shares her love of travel and explains the important role that the TV show Supernatural has played in her life.

Karen Graham Trinity College

What is your role?

I’m the TCTS administrator. I don’t have a background in theology, but I really enjoy the work I do at Trinity. I also pursue other interests such as travel writing, photography, editing and tour guiding. I run a half-day and full-day tour of Melbourne called Meander Melbourne through Airbnb (COVID-19 restrictions pending). I really love this city and enjoy sharing it with visitors.

What do you enjoy most about working at Trinity College?

I enjoy the sense of community that I have with the faculty, staff and students. It is such a warm atmosphere, not to mention the spectacular setting of the college’s buildings and grounds. It is like a little oasis in the middle of a big city.

What is one of your favourite memories or conversations from your time at Trinity?

I remember the first time I met my boss, Bob Derrenbacker. It was in 2018, when he was visiting Trinity prior to commencing as Dean the following year. I had enlisted some fellow Trinity staff to help me with a crazy international scavenger hunt that I was participating in. One of the tasks was to get together a dozen people in a wine-glass orchestra to play the Kansas song ‘Carry on Wayward Son’. I had enlisted some members of the Trinity choir to help and we had set up in the Chapel at lunchtime. It was at this precise moment that Bob walked in to take a look at the Chapel. He didn’t even bat an eyelid at our shenanigans, so I knew right then we had a good sport joining us on faculty.    

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Can’t remember ever thinking about this, maybe I didn’t want to grow up.

Has there been a pivotal moment in your life?

There have been a lot of those moments, such as when I had my first travel article published. But the one that is most recent is when I left a toxic job behind, did some travelling and then ended up working at Trinity College. Being in such a supported role, with caring people, allowed me to be happy at work and ultimately get back to the things I love outside my work. This peace of mind led to me starting my Melbourne walking tour.

What do you think it means to live a life with purpose?

Follow your heart is the best thing I can think of, it’s what I do most of the time.

What’s your favourite TV show and why?

I am obsessed with the TV show Supernatural because at its heart it’s a show about family relationships (whether it’s blood relatives or friendships – “family don’t end in blood”) and it’s about not giving up, against all odds. The characters always keep fighting for what they believe in. The mantra of ‘always keep fighting’ has also spread out of the show and into the real world, with the cast, crew and fans raising money and awareness for all sorts of charities.

It directly led me to volunteer with an organisation called IMALive, which is an online crisis intervention organisation. I have been volunteering with them for three and a half years and have dedicated 700 hours so far, to be there for people in crisis. In doing so, I’ve also learnt strategies to help myself through difficult times. But, back to Supernatural, I have also met the actors and watched filming in Vancouver, Canada. It’s been a big part of my life for the last decade.  

What’s an interesting story from your life or travels you’d like to share?

I love to travel and, usually when I do, I give myself a challenge, such as a bike ride or a hike. On my travels I’ve trekked up Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, walked along sections of the Great Wall of China, cycled along the Danube River in Austria, spotted a grizzly bear while hiking in the Canadian backcountry, and had a close encounter with a brown snake while cycling in Australia. One day I hope to travel to Antarctica. 

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given?

Let go of the things you can’t control.

What would make the world a more peaceful place?

I believe that travel to other countries broadens horizons. Just to experience other cultures and meet people, whose lives are so different from our own, opens our minds and makes us realise that we are all fundamentally the same. It’s about acceptance and treating people as we would like to be treated ourselves.

And if you can’t travel, educate yourself. Watch documentaries or read books. I recently read something quite beautiful and so true. A parent was educating their child about racism and the child said, ‘Our skeletons all look the same’.

What activities make you lose track of time?

Writing, especially if I’m writing about something I’m passionate about. I can also easily get lost in TV shows, particularly Supernatural, and all type of books. I love reading and I love learning.

What is your life philosophy?

I believe in serendipity, that things happen for a reason. I think that challenging times lead us to a greater appreciation of the good times.  

What do you think it means to be a good person?

Be kind to everyone. You can’t possibly know what they are going through.



Category: Theological School