Catching Up with Dr Maureen Vincent

While every one of Trinity's lecturers is stellar in his/her own right, there are certain lecturers who are just so impressive: any student who has had the pleasure of crossing paths with her would remember Dr Maureen Vincent, lecturer in the Foundation Studies Program.

As Maureen approaches 20 years with the institution, her role has evolved. Here are some observations and reflections on her roles with Trinity College Foundation Studies, as well as what she’s gained from her experience with the program.

Q: How did it all begin?

A: Back then, I was working alongside the previous Trinity lecturer-in-charge from Deakin University; she was offered another teaching position at a different institution which obliged her to start immediately. Desperately wanting to accept the new position, but not wishing to leave Trinity in the lurch, she frantically scrambled to try to convince everyone she knew to take over her position.

In those days, I was juggling my PhD with lecturing at both Deakin and Monash Universities, so like everyone else she’d approached, I declined. When we met a week later, I found her despondent – with her hands tied, she’d decided to decline the new job opportunity. So, on the spur of the moment I wavered, offering to take over her role at TCFS – but only for a few weeks! After an interview, I found myself teaching the very next day, and the rest is history.

Q: What were you doing prior to Trinity College Foundation Studies?

A: I’d lived in Central Australia for two years, working as a social worker with the Arrernte Aboriginal community, who are the traditional owners of Arrernte lands around Alice Springs. I was also a VCE psychology and English teacher, as well as a lecturer of undergraduate and postgraduate psychology at Monash and Deakin University.

Q: Do you recall when you first stepped into a class full of international students?

A: I remember it well indeed! They all stood in silence when I walked into the classroom. I also recall the students being very quiet and being pleasantly surprised by their level of respect and reverence for the teachers.

Q: By extension, how has the College changed since you commenced here, and teaching aside, what are your current responsibilities at Trinity?

A: With expansion, my role is more managerial in focus; I ensure the Psychology department runs smoothly from both an organisational perspective and the students’ experience, and I also focus on staff development and mentoring.
I oversee the running of the Psychology department, so managing staff, of which we have eight at present, includes various administrative duties like budgeting, policy development and staffing. I also mentor and develop new staff or educators early in their teaching career.
Curriculum development involves ensuring we have a vibrant, current, scientifically-driven and engaging curriculum for our students. I’m also coordinator of three streams in the Young Leaders Program (Arts, Social Justice and Leadership, and Psychology) and for trips overseas (Vietnam, Myanmar, Taiwan) to educate and inspire potential students about the discipline of psychology.

Q: How has the College changed since you commenced here?

A: The most significant change has been in terms of growth: student enrolments are now approximately 1500 per annum. There’s the restructuring of intakes and programs offered, as well as the physical space, with the new Gateway Building and the addition of the Victoria Street campus.
Q: While catching up with alumni, have you ever come across anyone who turned out to be something completely different from what you expected?

A: Firstly, I am always amazed at the number of past students who maintain contact to recall memories of Trinity and express gratitude for it being part of their journey. When in Myanmar, seven former psychology students hosted my family during our stay, teaching us about their beautiful country, showing us the sights, organising a feast of traditional dishes, and recounting happy memories of their Trinity journey.
I am always amazed at the gratitude of previous students who eagerly recall something that was said in a psychology lecture that they’d never forgotten. I run into past students both in Melbourne and overseas, keeping in regular contact via email and I really enjoy hearing their stories once they have left Trinity.
One young male student who appeared quite aloof and somewhat uninterested in class now runs a very successful multimillion dollar company! However, I must admit, I get most excited when former students have pursued a career in psychology and are employed as psychologists, academics or researchers in the field of psychology. A former psychology student I taught many years ago is now currently a member of the psychology teaching staff!

This always brings a smile to my face and I can’t help but feel a sense of pride when former students state that their love of psychology started when they chose psychology as an elective at Trinity – a subject they had never studied before – never realising that when they walked on to the grounds of Trinity that their lives’ direction would change, leading to a new passion and a career in psychology, which for many, was to the surprise (and worry) of parents.

Q: Tell us a bit more about Maureen, outside of Trinity.

A: I work as a clinical psychologist in private practice and provide professional supervision to registered psychologists. I am so blessed to share my life with my husband and two sons, who are wonderful, crazy human beings.
About 30 years ago, my hubby (then boyfriend) and I made a pact to travel every year to volunteer our time in other countries: trekking through rural Nepal to assist in the wake of a devastating earthquake; digging wells in India to provide access to safe, clean water; building homes for the poor (widows, single mothers, landmine victims) and caring for orphaned children (as a result of AIDS, etc.) in Cambodia; or working to improve the welfare conditions of elephants, which are incredibly intelligent animals, and the mahouts.
As soon as we finish one project, we spend the rest of the year planning the next and have now forged such meaningful connections, we regularly return to the same spots. This has been an amazing learning opportunity for our children, who come along with us on these voyages. We believe that children (and adults) should experience the world beyond the classroom, learn from experience, and embrace compassion for all human beings.

Q: In your view, what role do you think our alumni can play? Have you any special message for alumni?
A: You are now very much a part of an institution, and you should be proud! You are always welcome at Trinity, and while many developments have taken place over the years, there are still plenty of reminders to take you back to your time at Trinity. You’ve now carved out your own paths and embarked on a varied journey, yet you will forever remain bonded by the shared values of the College. So be sure to stay in contact, share your passion and continue to inspire others. Come back when you can, to share the lessons you've learnt and create opportunities for the next generation.

Prepared by: Jo-Anne Tsai Tsiu Yiung (TCFS 2005)

06 Jun 2017
Category: People