Griffith experiences open a world of opportunities
As a Townsville teenager with a rebellious streak, it took some time for Kimberley Bates to start the journey to university. By the time she reconnected with education and worked her way to Griffith she feared she might have left it too late. Seven years down the track, her understanding of a university degree and what it can do for someone’s life is an entirely different picture, one with depth and colour and one without borders.
As her three-cylinder pink Suzuki Alto rolled out of Townsville, Kimberley Bates most likely had a picture in her mind of what a university degree looked like. A new life beckoned in Brisbane, but starting her journey as a mature aged student, Kimberley had her concerns.
“People put life on a timeline,” she says. “When you are in your twenties you should be doing X, Y, Z and getting these skills and qualifications. And so, when I actually started at Griffith, I really felt like ‘Oh I’m behind’.”
Time has changed that perspective for the 27-year-old who is set to take up an ambassadorial role in Thailand with the United Nations later this year.
“Now I don’t care because life is a journey and if you want to upskill yourself and be very current and keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world, you can’t rush that. You have to take your time. The opportunities are there, sometimes they are hidden. The onus is on you to seek them out but they’re there.”
Kimberley has discovered a world of opportunity since she started studying a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith. She settled in easily as a mature age student, and soon added a Bachelor of Psychological Science and a Diploma in Languages (Chinese) to her study plan.
“I started seeing the world very differently because of what I was studying,” she says.
Excellent grades ensued and Kimberley gained membership of the Griffith Honours College which offered her the prospect of extra mentoring, professional experiences and overseas options. Her Honours College membership impressed upon Kimberley the importance of a global network. “They were secretly building up these skills that I didn’t realise I needed. I honestly thought I could get by studying a degree in criminology and psychology and not have this world view. And now, if I wanted to, I could get a job anywhere in the world. That’s how confident I feel because of the opportunities I have taken with Griffith.”
Kimberley has come a long way since that maiden voyage from Townsville, starting with a first ever trip overseas to China. Since then she has returned there for the 15th annual Australia studies in China conference and as an Asia Future Fellow through the Griffith Asia Institute. Then came the New Colombo Plan scholarship.
A signature initiative of the Federal Government, the New Colombo Plan supports Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the Asia-Pacific region with a prestigious and highly sought-after scholarship. It loomed brightly as the next logical step only for Kimberley to be turned down on her application.
By her own admission, she was ready to close the book on NCP but Griffith had other ideas. “They wouldn’t let me give up. We set up a mock panel to practice interviews just to get my confidence up to go back to Canberra.”
Kimberley would return to the national capital to accept a New Colombo Plan scholarship from the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2018, which put her on a path to the City University of Hong Kong to study criminology and psychology. The hustle and bustle of Hong Kong left no room for relaxation, and she has met its challenge with conviction.
New Colombo also took her to India, where she focused on neurological disorders at a regional mental health hospital, and the prestigious scholarship next brought Kimberley to the attention of the United Nations when her appetite for new knowledge was recognised with a key role. She will soon leave Queensland for Bangkok to be a Humanitarian Affairs Asia Peace Ambassador for 2019.
Where one day she packed her world into a little pink car, today – a person transformed – she feels she’s given the keys to the world.
With study opportunities in over 65 countries, Griffith equips students with global experiences to give them a competitive edge upon graduation.
“Griffith is definitely keeping up-to-date with what is happening in the world and encouraging students to go out and get global experience,” she says. “There is a demand and a need for students in diverse disciplines from social science to medical degrees, engineering and the arts,” she says.
“Griffith University is building capable future leaders of the world. They are building resilient people. They’ve handed me the torch. I’ve got the tools now and when I go out into the world, I’m now doing it naturally.”