Give back, and that’s that

Pic 1You are given two lemons, but are asked to make orange juice – how does that even work? A Good Samaritan gives you two oranges instead. Numerous things in a person’s life influence who they are and what they will become. Everyone has different things going on that affect them, just as much as the next person and just like the Good Samaritan, there are always people there willing to give you a lending hand. The Samaritan volunteered the two oranges so the orange juice could be made. So many things happen in life and for me, I have found that volunteering is the best way I can give back.

This year I had the honour of being elected the President of the USQ Charity Committee. The USQ Charity Committee originally started out as a group of students from USQ Residential Colleges who worked together to raise funds for charities through facilitating events for students. Just last year, the group was opened up to all USQ students to take part in when it became a USQ Club. The response to the endeavours of the club have been amazing.

Annually, the USQ Charity Committee holds a Gala Event, the biggest fundraiser of the year, for a chosen charity – this year, it was the Pancare Foundation. The Pancare Foundation raises much needed funds for those suffering from pancreatic, liver, biliary, oesophageal and stomach cancers. This organisation was agreed upon by all members of the committee and we all worked together to make the best event possible, to get the best results for the charity.

This year’s theme to raise money for the Pancare Foundation was White Party. All guests were required to wear white (but we didn’t turn away anyone that didn’t) and participate in different events throughout the night. Our biggest fundraiser of the evening was the auction. Numerous items were auctioned, from paintings to gift packs, all with a favourable response by guests. Along with the auction, we had coin tosses and the most popular event of the evening was the toilet paper competition. Guests were required to form groups and appoint one person to be the model; the group then proceeded to decorate the model in toilet paper and the best dressed model won a prize. There were lots of laughs and it was an enjoyable night for all.

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I have been a member of the USQ Charity Committee since I started at USQ and it has been one of my most rewarding experiences. Not only am I able to meet people and attend and participate in great events, I am able to give back to charities and people by raising much needed funds. Volunteering helps gain professional experience, brings people together and allows for personal growth and self-esteem. It is a truly rewarding experience and I recommend, if you aren’t already, to join an organisation you are passionate about – something close to your heart – and volunteer. It is your chance to give back. It is your chance to make a difference.

The Gatsby Gala


I’m back again, with even more exciting things to share. This year I am President of the USQ Charity Committee. Working with an executive, as well as committee members, we have been working on heaps of fundraising projects this year. The chosen Charity for this year is the Pyjama Foundation.

They are a children’s charity that is breaking the cycle of disadvantage experienced by Australian children in foster care. The Pyjama Foundation recruits, screens, trains and supports Pyjama Angels – volunteer members of the community who work with the children and support our true heroes – Australia’s foster families. Since inception in 2004, the organisation and its founder have inspired more than 1000 members of our community to become volunteer Pyjama Angels, visiting a child in care each week to read books, play games, and engage in other fun, learning-based activities. As they are a relatively new foundation, the charity committee are doing our bit to get the word out and help out these amazing people by raising money for a worthy cause.

There have been a few events so far, the main being Pyjama Day. Held at USQ Toowoomba, we had a sausage sizzle, ice cream, free red bull and over 40 prep kids from Concordia Lutheran College in Toowoomba who came dressed in their Pyjamas for an exclusive book reading.


This day was a huge success. However, the MOST EXCITING part is yet to come!

 *Drum roll*

The Gatsby Gala!

To be held on the 24th of August, the 2013 Annual Charity Ball is sure to be a Charitable Affair to Remember. There will be Casino Tables with “funny money”, a photo book, a live jazz band, live ballroom dancers and much much more. We chose a theme of 1920’s to keep it sophisticated, as well as making it relevant with the recent release of the famous novel ‘The Great Gatsby’.

We have all been working very hard over the past few months to bring this event together, many phone calls, emails, letters and ‘open discussions’ we are now in the final steps. Its only 2 weeks away!

I invite every person reading this blog to attend this event, it is open to everyone. And you have my word that it will be a great night for a great cause.


I hope to see you there!


The last taste of holidays.. and an exciting new year ahead.

“I need you to do something for me.  Can you grab a pen and a piece of paper?” he asked.

“Is a coaster okay?”  I responded.

I’ve returned to my old job working in a popular pub in my hometown of Maryborough, pulling beers for the entire population of middle to late aged men in town.   It’s been great to get back into work and save up some money for 2013.  Plus, working in a bar guarantees air conditioning as well as the opportunity to chat to many people I wouldn’t usually get a chance to.  That’s one thing that I really enjoy; meeting and talking to people and hearing what they have to say.  Even if it’s just about how bloody hot it is outside, people from all walks of life can sit down and congregate on an equal playing field with a beer in hand.  However, as you can expect, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

“Yeah, a coaster is fine.  Now can you write your phone number on it please?” 

At this point, I realised that I really should have seen that coming.  Don’t worry Steph, I tell myself, the creepy tattoo beard man who doesn’t own a toothbrush and won’t follow you back to college.

Other than the good, the bad and the ugly of my job at the pub, my holidays have been great.  Especially with the news that I’ve been chosen to join the esteemed ranks of the Collegiate Team as a Residential Advisor (RA)!  For the non-college readers, this means I organise nightly study hall, living-learning community (basically activities and events) and have rostered duty shifts after business hours to be the point of contact for McGregor College residents who may require after hours assistance (study hall, lock outs, College rounds and respond to emergencies.. well at least fire alarms!).  This is done in exchange for free board and a room twice as big as everyone else’s.

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Me, Jan (the VC) and Lachlan (Concannon RA)

Begin my jedi training soon, I will.

“But wait Steph!” I hear you say.  “How did you apply for such a position and what would you recommend for others applying to be an RA?” 

If you are thinking about applying in the future, the applications open at the end (September) of each year.  I was required to submit an application online and then participate in an interview.  I won’t tell you how to sit an interview or put in an application, it’s pretty obvious and you’ve probably over dosed on ‘how to’ instructions at school/university.  My main advice to you is to get involved within the College community.  Become an active member that people can rely on, and have fun while you’re at it.  Make an effort to get to know as many people as possible, and experience everything College has to offer (go to everything!).  Also, especially if you will be a fresher in 2013, make an effort to come along to the O-Week festivities.

Furthermore, there are lots of great clubs and groups you can get involved in too.  For example, I was the Secretary of the Charity Committee in 2012.  We ran many great activities such as the shave for a cure, raffles and trivia nights.  Our flagship event for 2012 was the Charity Royale, a James bond themed casino night.  You may have seen those aesthetically pleasing, well designed posters around USQ.

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A great way to show off your leadership development and community involvement is to sign up for the USQ Phoenix Award.  You can achieve this award by accruing 1000 points by taking part in non-compulsory extra-curricular activities.  Each activity has designated points and points build up gradually over a number of years, which perfectly balances the time taken to finish your degree.  There is a great list of formal activities and volunteer jobs to get involved in, and they will also assign points to approved activities that may not be on the formal list.  It’s very easy to do, and it only took me a year and a half to complete.  I strongly recommend getting involved because it looks great on your university academic transcript (as well as your resume!) and is easy to attain through some activities you are probably already doing.

Lachlan (another charity committee member) and I at the Charity Casino Night

Lachlan (RA & charity committee member) and I at the Charity Casino Night

I’ll conclude with a quote, this time from the Dalai Lama.  Do not read this in the voice of a llama.

“Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions.”