Keighley Bradford is a Masters student in the School of Creative Industries, and NUPSA’s Communications Officer.
‘You’ is a very broad topic with a multitude of possibilities to explore; the concept had me thinking about our connection and what’s happened in our lives to have brought us here, studying at UON at the same time, making the friends that we do. What journey have we all been on to reach this point in time and space, where we find ourselves with this commonality (aka: postgraduate life)?
Unlike a lot of kids, I always loved learning. I thrived in the classroom, preferred to read a book rather than hang out in the playground, and really couldn’t care less about kid’s games or activities like cross country. I enjoyed being academically challenged. “Knowledge is power,” as they say, and I was determined to spend my time learning wherever I could.
This is how I got into creative writing. I didn’t even dip my toes in – just dove headfirst into the world of fiction by writing my first novel. It was a YA paranormal book (because those were all the rage back then) and it may have also taken me four years to complete it (because I’m a perfectionist – and I’m sorry, but how dare the characters not meet my demands in the final chapter?).
I studied how my favourite authors constructed these make-believe worlds and thought myself skilled in the art of fiction. Around this time, I also discovered that there was something about the film industry that intrigued. I still to this day can’t quite figure out what it is about the idea of working behind the scenes, constructing films and tv shows, that I am fascinated with. I can, however, confirm that I have ruled out acting (HSC Drama has revealed as much – though being an extra on a set remains on my bucket list).
Because I grew up in a small country town, I didn’t have many opportunities to explore writing (and even fewer for film). When the time came to select a uni, being able to study those fields was a deciding factor (as well as proximity to the beach, because while they aren’t the most convenient places to study, they are perfect for study breaks). That’s how, after a failed attempt at a gap year (because apparently thirteen years of education hadn’t destroyed my desire to learn), I ended up moving to Newcastle to study a BA at UON.
Then UON introduced a new degree – the Bachelor of Creative Industries. It was more focused on industry skills and knowledge than Arts, and while I wasn’t entirely sure which field I wanted to work in, it seemed like a better fit for my career aspirations. So, after doing only one semester in a BA, I transferred degrees and became a student in the first cohort of the BCI program.
Three years later, I can’t say I regret the switch. What I do regret is not taking the risk to learn more about film while I had the opportunity. I chose to major in Writing and Publishing (because I was still undecided at that crucial moment when I had to choose a major pathway). What I found was that challenge I craved when it came to studying just wasn’t there with writing; I’d gained so much more joy and knowledge from my communication and media courses.
While disappointing, I’ve gained valuable skills, knowledge and expertise in both these fields regardless. These skills have allowed me to form a club community on campus, give people confidence in my ability to lead teams, and even helped me land my first paid gig. During that time, I also grew into who I am, broke out of my introvert shell, and was fortunate enough to get work experience in the fields I loved.
I had no intention to return to uni after I graduated last year. It only took about sixteen years in the education system to wear me down, but I was officially over learning and ready to move onto the next phase of my life. However, after struggling to find work post-uni and growing bored with ‘nothing to do’, I panic-applied to postgrad studies. I figured if I opted to study online, at least I could keep job hunting (and still have flexible hours to keep studying if I was successful).
Plus, I already knew that I wanted to learn more about communication and media based off my undergrad experience, and from a few volunteer gigs I did while studying, I’d learnt that I really enjoyed marketing. (Figures, since it was my favourite subject in Business Studies back in high school.) And that, folks, is how I ended up doing a Master of Creative Industries, studying marketing, communication and media.
If you read through all that, I applaud you. Reading about my journey probably didn’t seem all that interesting, but working on this piece honestly allowed me to sit back, reflect, and reminisce on the little things that have made me who I am, while also reminding me to appreciate each and every accomplishment I have achieved, no matter how big or small.
This piece only touches the surface of my tale; there are so many other tiny factors within the timeline of my life that lead me to being here today. Likewise, for each and every one of you.
So, take a moment. Think about the life you’ve had. What’s your journey?