Joshua Mills wasn’t considering a Law degree when he started studying at UC. He began a Justice Studies degree to bide his time until he had enough life experience and skills to join the Australian Federal Police.
“I didn’t have the ATAR to go straight into a Law degree,” Joshua says. “In my first semester, I realised quite quickly that the law component of the Justice Studies degree was fascinating and appealed to me.”
“I was drawn to the legal reasoning and problem solving. The appeal of the law components in that initial year was so strong that I thought, ‘I’ll try really hard this year and if I do well enough, I might be able to apply and transfer to a Law degree’. So, I gave that first year everything I had.”
At the end of his first year of his Justice Studies degree, Joshua successfully transferred to a Law degree and from there he was committed.
Joshua graduated this year with Honours, and upon reflection of his time at UC, it is the teaching staff within the law faculty that left a lasting impression.
“All of the teaching staff were excellent. I never had any doubts in their capabilities, or their qualifications or their skillset,” says Joshua.
“Qualifications and learning aside, there is also the emotional and human element of running these courses that really shone through and meant the most to me.”
This human element was particularly appreciated through some of the more trying times. Joshua describes the ‘immensely helpful’ lecturers through Litigation and Dispute Processing, a unit that was particularly difficult, and which required making oral submissions in a mock trial setting.
“I really struggled with the speaking and oral presentation component of that particular unit, and the lecturer, Andrew Henderson, was beyond supportive and really helped facilitate a way that enabled me to be able to complete that part of the course.”
“That was probably a real highlight from my study and was an example of UC really delivering what I needed in a personalised way. Another highlight was the health justice clinic led by Doris Bozin in my final semester. That whole unit focused more on the lawyer-client relationship, which was a unique perspective that I really valued.”
Joshua also speaks fondly of his Honours supervisor, Dr Bruce Arnold, for providing support when he needed motivation.
“He was always putting a smile on my face and cheering me up when I was being too hard on myself. Without his support and guidance, I doubt I would have been able to complete my Honours thesis.”
Joshua is currently working as a Technology and Administrative Officer for the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT), developing skills in the industry while assisting members with research and occasionally as anassociate. However, he still has his heart set on joining the AFP .
“I want to take my Law skills and use them in a general duties role, learn the general duties for a year or two and then what I’m aiming for is to move further up into a criminal taskforce or criminal operations team, or even a position with AFP Legal. That’s the endgame, and has been since starting my degree at UC. Getting to that position may take years, but it’s where I’d like to be.”
While graduation ceremonies have had to be altered with COVID-19 restrictions, Joshua still plans to celebrate with family and friends.
“I’m relieved that I’ve finally reached the end. I’m excited about where I might go in my career and I guess I’m nervous and apprehensive at the same time. It’s a mixed bag of emotions.”
Joshua 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.
Words by Tara Corcoran, photos by Madeleine Wood