Matthew Leonard

After graduating from Eltham High School in 2000, I attended from 2001-2007, first studying for a Biological Sciences degree, then changing to a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Chemistry. My time at La Trobe allowed me to learn how to be an adult.

After graduating from La Trobe, I found work using my chemistry skills at a mineral analysis lab in Mount Isa, then in a winery in the Yarra Valley (Domaine Chandon), then as a polymer chemist in Cheltenham. I later went on to study Honours (2010), and PhD (2015) at RMIT.

I am now in mainland China where I work as a chemistry teacher in a high school. My Chinese students are the ones who plan to study abroad, and so I aim to prepare them for life at a university campus in an English speaking country. If I were to win the prize of a trip to Melbourne for me and a guest, I would like to bring one of my Chinese students to see the campus that shaped me in the early part of my life.

During my time at La Trobe I lived on campus at Chisholm College, and then lived in rental properties in Heidelberg Heights and Kingsbury. I have many memories of my time at the Bundoora campus, but one that sticks most in my mind was working as a student host over in January/February to welcome new students. Since 2002, I really enjoyed this part of the year. It acted as a welcome back ceremony for us hosts, reminding us of our goals for the year and who we would be seeing on campus. After a rest over Christmas/New Year, working as a host got us back into the rhythm of La Trobe. We would be given t-shirts and hats to identify ourselves as hosts. Mr Martin Cheale acted as host coordinator. Hosts were provided with lunch and sometimes a drinks party at the Eagle Bar.