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Pioneer Alumni High-Tea and learning-through-doing attitude to education

Have you heard of Macquarie’s Pioneer Alumni? No, neither had I until recently when I had the privilege of being asked to speak on behalf of current students to our pioneer graduates. Macquarie’s Pioneer Alumni are graduates and staff from the beginning decade of the university. On Monday 26 May, a splendid High Tea was hosted by Prof. S Bruce Dowton, Vice Chancellor, with more than 250 of Macquarie University’s ‘pioneer’ students and staff from 1969 to 1977. This was a part of the 50th Jubilee celebrations of our University. Professor Dowton spoke of the leadership and achievements of Pioneer Alumni.

My representation was to capture the variety of student life that we have available to us as current day Macquarie students. When I was asked to speak, my brief was, well, brief. ‘Nothing specific, but if I could somehow tie in the current success of MQ to the groundwork of our original alumni, that would do the job nicely!’…… is a vague paraphrasing of how my task was pitched to me.

My answer was to defer to the vista of opportunities each of us has available by virtue of being a student at MQ. I wholeheartedly believe that Macquarie prepares us, if we choose to take the baton, for the certain unknowns we will face post graduation. The value placed on academic excellence is evident and measurable by the bell-curve. The real virtue of education, however, is not measurable by conventional standards; but by engagement; by leadership and manifest through the development of our global attitudes. I have approached these attitudes by joining the Global Leadership Program (GLP), participating in LEAP Refugee Mentoring, serving on our Student Advisory Board and writing for Grapeshot, the Macquarie student publication; and yet, there is so much more to do – semester exchange, a PACE trip, a PACE unit and TEDx MQ to name the first things that come to mind.

Those Pioneer Alumni whom shared their passion through the early DRAMAC productions or honed their skills of parley with the Debating Society (now MUDS), which are our two oldest student organisations, will attest to the great contributions those experiences made to their university lives. I firmly place confidence in the attitudes and conscience raising exercise that is OUR involvement in the GLP. Going beyond and learning through doing is the nexus of our education today; I love it and I will value it well beyond my graduation ceremony.

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