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Alumni Stories

One small step to Canberra: One giant leap to success

The pinnacle of a four-year university career was captured in a single moment for Kate Spencer as she and her team mates waited for the outcome of their presentation at the National IAA Big Idea Marketing Challenge Competition Finals in Sydney where they competed against four other university teams.

“The pressure of wanting to take home the title and break a two-year runner-up hiatus for UC became incredibly real,” said Kate.

The UC Team was awarded the 2018 National IAA Big idea Marketing Challenge championship title, making it a well-deserved first for UC and a proud moment for these brilliant creative minds.

Kate’s sense of self belief has not come easily but she clearly has an innate desire to succeed, having persevered through many challenges during her student years.

She believes that the best things happen when you step out of your comfort zone. “It is such a cliché but it is so true of my four-year journey as a UC student.”

Having grown up in Tamworth, Kate has an appreciation for the rural landscape and lifestyle, all part of the fabric of her being. Yet she chose to leave all that was familiar to her to embark on an exciting life as a student in Canberra.

Kate saw UC as a young, innovative and growing university that would help her achieve her goals. “I felt that UC would suit my lifestyle and career prospects, and the campus made me feel at home with its bushy surrounds and native open spaces.”

Kate admits that she never anticipated some of the difficulties she would face in adjusting to university life. “I missed my family, friends and poodle Brandy my best friend of 17-years,” she said.

She balanced two jobs, her studies and lived off campus. Kate admits that she struggled to integrate into campus life.

Kate also considered herself an average student, but Shara Ranasinghe, her Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies, saw Kate’s potential from early on.

“It was clear that Kate struggled at first, but after marking her first assignment I saw that she had the potential to do fantastic work. All she needed was a little encouragement,” said Shara.

Realising that she needed to find a good work, study and life balance, Kate began to look at ways to become more involved in the UC community and joined Redbacks Netball and UCAMS – a student collective for those interested in communications.

“This decision changed my whole perspective. I met amazing people and suddenly more opportunities opened up for me,” she said.

In her final year, Kate signed up for four units, an internship unit, presented in the 2018 UC FAD Exhibition ‘Discover’, was the secretary of the Communications Ball committee and applied to join UC’s National IAA Big Idea Marketing Challenge Competition team.

“This was by far the busiest time of my university career and things ramped up in the second semester as I became Creative Lead within the team,” said Kate.

But while opportunities were opening up, Kate started to struggle with a crisis of confidence.

“Suddenly I felt out of my depth especially surrounded by the incredible minds and abilities of my fellow team mates and started to question my own.”

While Kate’s doubts crept in, Shara recognised that it was a lack of self-belief, not ability.

“Kate’s role as the creative in the team was pivotal. I knew that she had it in her, but she needed to believe it for herself,” said Shara.

“Shara challenged me to think differently and approach my role in the team with fresh perspective,” said Kate.

“Today, I don’t regret taking those bold steps out of my comfort zone, they have allowed me to flourish and grow my confidence and independence.”

Kate graduated with a double degree in a Bachelor of Graphic Design and Bachelor of Communication in Advertising in March 2019. She will soon be taking her next bold step as she takes up her full-time position as Junior Designer at KPMG.

Words by Andy Visser and photographs supplied.

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