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Arts & Culture


When she was five years old, Elly Taylor’s kindergarten teacher told her she should become an author when she grows up.

Although at the time she didn’t know what an author was, Elly took her teacher’s advice to heart – and in this September round of graduations, she will graduate from the University of Canberra with a Bachelor of Writing.

Since finishing her degree, Elly has joined forces with fellow UC graduate Ashley McGrath to pursue their passion for storytelling and open a publishing company.

“I’ve always been a writer,” Elly says.

“I’ve been reading my whole life – I started reading chapter books before I even began primary school.”

It isn’t just books that Elly has a passion for – she has a keen interest in all aspects of storytelling.

“I love films, music, and of late – even video and board games that tell a story.”

Throughout her time at UC, Elly’s writing skills bloomed, and she discovered that university life is very different to high school.

“I was much more suited to university life than I was to high school life,” she says.

“I loved being in the university environment, having tutors that loved to talk, interact and workshop – rather than just telling us how to do something.”

Elly says that the tutors she worked with expanded her range of ideas when it comes to storytelling.

“There were a lot of hands-on units that I enjoyed and helped me explore different ways of writing and expanding on an idea,” she says.

“Our teachers were very open to the idea that there is more than one way to find a solution, and you just have to work to find the answers.”

It was also during her time at UC that she got to know Ashley. Initially, they only had the odd tutorial or lecture together, but before long they struck up a friendship and began working with one another on group assignments and helping each other study.

“We had a couple of classes together and after a few weeks eventually introduced ourselves,” Ashley says.

“We started workshopping together and whenever a group assignment came up, we quickly put our hands up to be in the same group.”

Together with Elly’s sister, the two of them joined forces to create Swell Publications. And despite only having graduated this year, the business has taken off.

“We’ve already released a small gift book and have a few other ideas in the works,” Elly says.

“Swell consists of myself and Ashley’s creative ideas, and my sister Bethany’s business smarts. I can’t remember if there was an exact moment that we said we would start a business, but eventually it just happened.”

Working together has come naturally to the team of three, thanks to their now long-standing friendship.

“I think because we had workshopped together so much, by the time we decided to work together professionally we already had a system worked out and knew how we liked to go about it,” Ashley says.

And although both girls have been unable to graduate in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, they plan on celebrating their degrees in a very relatable way.

“We’re just so busy with work that it’s been hard to organise anything – we’ll probably just chill out at home with a glass of wine,” Elly says.

Words by Elly Mackay, photos supplied.

Elly is from the University of Canberra’s graduating class of 2020 – the first year that graduations will be held virtually.

It's been a challenging year unlike any other – and our graduates have risen to meet it with spirit, heart and courage.

Many of our world-ready graduates are already pushing boundaries and blazing trails in their chosen industries. Many others have one foot in the industry, and one in academia, as they further their postgraduate learning.

We are proud of you, and we cannot wait to see what you will do next.

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