Author Archives: Isabella Milevski

Allan Beesey

Anthropology was not on offer when I enrolled at La Trobe as a mature age student in the 1980s. Robin Jeffrey, however, was teaching Peasant Studies, those peasants that anthropologists like to examine. Then with Grant Evans, sadly now deceased, we looked at the peasants through a development lens. Robin was also teaching on politics in England and India, a rather dry subject. He brought it to life though, through a mash of political affairs and the sexual proclivities of politicians, both at home and in the colonies. The real attraction in India however, was a man in a loin cloth, and even his sex life was not left out!

In year three, Marilyn McIntyre was teaching anthropology, and we studied sex work in Thailand and the Philippines. I began to really get a feel for the lives of peasants, and the imagination of Margaret Mead. Then a master’s thesis followed, on HIV, exploring the sexual culture of northern Thai peasants.

David Bradley started off as my supervisor, but as I was working and travelling it went on for some time. Dennis Altman finally led the process, giving him his ‘first big break’ as he became one of the leading lights in the AIDS world! For a while Robert Manne was also on board; maybe Dennis was away. I was a little confused (was I doing politics or anthropology?), even Joe Camilleri was suggested at one stage, but I guess he was busy with his rock band. David Bradley came back on the scene then, and I have him to thank for giving me the tools to go out and meet the natives – the peasants. I didn’t know I needed tools at the time, but they really worked as I finished up marrying a peasant.

Now I’m writing a book on sex and gender, it’s not all sex, its anthropology; on the life of the woman I married and her family. It’s political, of course, but includes development, sociology, philosophy, Buddhism, feminism, and other subjects in the well-rounded education that added to my maturity.

Kristy Wee

Here we go…the hardcopy photos that I have to ‘collage’ on the floor…beautiful memories indeed. 15 years ago, but our smiles and experiences seem so fresh like it just happened only yesterday.

The Agora (an all time favourite for all, I presume): where we had our coffee fix.

Chisholm College: those times hanging out in kitchen; dinner (potluck) and, of course, drinking and cards sessions.

Kristy’s photos from her time at La Trobe University

I count our blessings that Google and smartphones were yet to take over the world because the time we spent in the Library, trying to reserve and sharing the reference books, the real connections (without our head down on phones) and sneaking our head into lecturers’ rooms for consultations are definitely top fondest memories. And the ‘pheww’ feeling (beer, anyone?) once we dropped our final assignments into the boxes (do they still exist now?) And hey, as I type, I suddenly recall those nights at Eagle Bar! Such fun unleashed if we went all the way, especially after exams.

This is the place where my beautiful friendships are born. The platform to mingle people with diverse backgrounds and cultures. I still remember the warm laughter we shared over lectures, activities and coffee/donuts.

To my close La Trobian mates, lecturers, and staff, we have left such deep footsteps behind us…a trail of memories where now we revisit and realise that it is still there. And it is heartwarming to see a new generation building their own now – a beautiful garden of human connections.

Happy 50th La Trobe!

Reachana Hang

I have found that a lot of people from La Trobe University share a common happy memory of the social life, as well as the education that the University brings.

Upon graduating from a double degree in a Bachelor of Health Sciences and a Bachelor of Commerce at La Trobe University, I entered the workforce straight after I graduated in the Health Sciences sector; and have had the opportunity to work interstate in NSW and ACT.

Being able to utilise social skills (networking) I realise now is one of the most valuable and transferrable assets in the work environment. Not only does it enable possible job connections, it also enhances work/life experiences. Reflecting, the structure of classes and tutorials, Library layout, and the carefully thought out (and beautiful) landscapes enabled and added to this experience.

I am also still best friends with the first person I met at La Trobe University, who happened to be someone who I introduced myself to on the very first day of university, who was standing next to me while we waited for our first lecture at the Western Lecture Theatre. That was at least 16 years ago! We also formed a close group of friends, with whom we regularly take time to share our life journey through coffee catch ups.

These are the things that completing two wonderful degrees has given me along the way, and something I will always treasure and tell people about.

Junxia Guo

The memory of La Trobe University…

It has been a few months since coming home from Australia, and the views of the eucalyptus, bush turkey, wattle, and the moat around our campus often sway in my mind.

I was so happy to see the natural scenery that was not seen in my home city. Every day, the eucalyptus’ unique smell, ducks and macaws call, blue sky and white clouds, accompanied me into the campus.

Junxia at the Library returns

I also like to relax on the lawn at the campus after class. I stop at a small bridge on the campus I named “Cambridge”, because every time I see it reminds me of the poet Xu Zhimo that the famous description of the beautiful Cambridge University poetry (Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again).

At the same time, the University also has an advanced learning environment. I was very fortunate to have student-centered, multidisciplinary classrooms in a newly built classroom building. It gave me an unprecedented learning experience I believe that it is the world’s leading student learning space in a university!

The natural campus landscape and advanced modern learning environment left on me a deep unforgettable impression. I miss La Trobe University very much. My mood is as described in that poem:
“Very quietly I take my leave
As quietly as I came here;
Quietly I wave good-bye
To the rosy clouds in the western sky.

But I cannot sing aloud
Quietness is my farewell music;
Even summer insects heap silence for me
Silent is Cambridge tonight!
Very quietly I take my leave
As quietly as I came here;
Gently I flick my sleeves
Not even a wisp of a cloud will I bring away…”

Cathy Koning

The year was 1971; the degree a Bachelor of Arts with Diploma of Education. The college was Menzies.

I checked out my digs. Brick walls. Scratchy brown carpet. A single bed, a desk, chair and wardrobe. Shared bathrooms and shared telephone. I loved my own small, but independent, domain. I had no idea that the newly built Brutalist style college was named after Sir Robert Menzies and designed by renowned architect Robin Boyd.

The first thing I did was light up a Marlboro cigarette. They cost 40 cents a pack.

My parents were Dutch migrants. We grew up on an orchard near Shepparton. Mum was an excellent cook, feeding us everything from fillet steak and sauerkraut to smoked eels. The food at Menzies, presented in bain-maries in the large dining room known as Toad Hall, was somewhat unappetising. I often snacked in the Agora.

I did not know anyone when I arrived but soon made friends with another country girl. We got our student cards done together. Her room was directly below mine so communication was easy via our long windows.

Cathy in 1971

That year I met my new boyfriend on a blind date. He once got in the newspapers by wearing an Indian caftan in public thereby causing a car accident. We liked to play card games such as 500 when he stayed for sleepovers. The cleaning lady worked around us.

My wardrobe was style central – bell bottoms, miniskirts, hot pants, vintage chiffon dresses, a stars and stripes top, and fox furs. Looking good was important, especially when bands like Daddy Cool came to play or Peter Cook and Dudley Moore gave a lunchtime concert

Each fortnight I trekked to a small building to collect my $25 a week studentship wage. My accommodation cost $21 weekly, but with extra income from a holiday job and some goodies from home, the living at Menzies was easy.

The next year I moved to the brand new Chisholm College, followed by the University flats in Barnes Way and a run-down terrace in Carlton. But that’s another story!

Amber Griffiths-Marsh

I attended La Trobe from 1969 to 1973, doing a Bachelor of Arts, and a Diploma of Education.

In my last year I lived in Menzies College. One night I went for a quiet walk around the campus, and heard someone in Glenn College playing on a piano, in the quiet of a silent night, some beautiful music. I was overwhelmed. I asked around and discovered what the music was, and so it was that I bought my first LP. The music – ‘The Sounds of Silence’.

Helen Forbes

I was part of the academic nursing staff who transitioned from Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences to La Trobe in 1988.

We were placed at the Abbotsford Convent for a couple of years before joining the main campus at Bundoora. Those were magical days as the team drove the professionalisation of nursing under the guidance of Pat Slater and then Judy Parker.

I had many wonderful opportunities and experiences which included teaching in Hong Kong at the CUHK and Singapore.

Another important event was leading the development of the clinical school at the Alfred hospital in 2001 – this is still in place all of these years later.

Michele Salmon

I was a mature age student who attended La Trobe between 1985 and 1989. I discovered I was pregnant a month after I started University and my son was born between the semesters.

The lecturers and other staff were brilliant when I arrived on campus with a six week old baby, from the Economics professor demanding that “the woman with the baby” be found a chair, to the librarians who were happy to have the car capsule with child behind the counter while I photocopied.

I completed my Bachelor of Economics majoring in Industrial Relations and believe that this was the foundation stone to my career in Industrial/Employee Relations. My daughter attended lectures with me during this time and 13 years later completed her Honours degree in Politics/Economics at La Trobe. She took many of the same subjects, and in some cases had the same lecturers as I had.

I look back on those years with pride and pleasure as I felt encouraged and supported to do my best.

Fen Peng

I was an overseas student, who came from Taiwan and studied at La Trobe University between 2016-2017.

Fen on her graduation day

I completed my Master of Health Science (Gerontology) at the University and I would like to comment that my study journey was very challenging but inspiring.

As my major is relatively new to most of universities in the world, La Trobe has offered a great opportunity to explore the aged care issues and broadened my knowledge of overall public health.

Thanks to my subject coordinators for making this subject possible and encouraging more young people to get involved in the age-care industry and create a more age-friendly society.

Kieran Menzie

I began my studies at La Trobe, in 2013, studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in Leadership and Management. At the time, I wasn’t sure if this really was what I wanted. In my first year I undertook a second year subject as an elective called “Financial Planning” taken by Marc Olynyk and I absolutely loved it. As I continued with my Leadership and Management course, in the back of my mind was the possibility to do financial planning. Halfway through my second year I decided that my passion was for financial planning. I consulted with a careers expert and planned my subjects so that I could transfer.

Kieran on his graduation day

At the start of 2015, I successfully changed my course to a Bachelor of Business majoring in Financial Planning and Human Resource Management. I felt more excited and happy about this change than ever before. As a result I sorted out work experience in this industry and was successful in obtaining volunteer work in a Financial Planning firm.

During my final year in 2015, I was also privileged to receive a scholarship from Platinum Asset Management, in which I was chosen from the students at La Trobe as one with a high academic achievement.

My journey at La Trobe has taught me valuable life lessons and has set me up for an amazing career. I am truly grateful for the opportunity I had to change my course and the guidance I received from the staff at La Trobe. I have been working full-time in the financial planning industry since I graduated and have never doubted my career change.