Welcome from the 2021 Senior Common Room President

By Thomas Frawley

Postgraduate Senior Common Room President 2021

I would like to start by saying a warm welcome to everyone new to Sancta this year. Whilst I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome all the new postgraduate students on behalf of Graduate House, this message is for everyone joining the Sancta community this year.

As with the undergraduate students, we are fortunate to welcome a vast array of new postgraduate students this year; from Sydney to the country, to interstate, and overseas, studying in a multitude of disciplines. It would be remiss, therefore, not to acknowledge the achievement that commencing postgraduate study represents. For many amongst us, this achievement may constitute being accepted into your dream vocational course. I want to take a moment to congratulate you on this milestone – it is indeed a momentous occasion.

Whether you are commencing a new course or returning to Sancta for another year, the road will undoubtedly present with unforeseen challenges and obstacles. I would encourage everyone to start with a simple greeting to your neighbours in the hall – the people around you will rapidly turn from strangers to some of your best friends, forming a bedrock of support for when the year becomes demanding. The Dining Hall, which at first might have seemed like a daunting exercise in socialising over a meal, will quickly become a refuge of collegiality after a long day in class or the clinic.

I welcome us to consider the notion that Sancta should be more than a haven, or a temporary residential address. The analogy of reaping what one may sow finds merit at Sancta Sophia College. There will be many opportunities throughout the year, from rowing to debating to painting to singing to athletics – I would encourage each new student to put their hand up and get involved as much as possible. Rather than increasing your respective burdens, my personal experience last year as a postgraduate student highlighted that extracurricular activities such as sport and intramural cultural events were not only beneficial to my studies but offered new experiences and friendships I cherish to this day. As postgraduate students, the demands of higher study can promote an environment of unilateral focus and orientation. I would encourage us to recognise the opportunity to engage in a variety of physical and cerebral activities unrelated to your immediate degree – a condition seldom found so wholistically outside the residential college environment.

Our Principal, Vice Principal, and the student leaders came together this week to articulate our interpretations of the defining values embodied at Sancta.  We agreed that Sancta students value respect first and foremost – acknowledging that our community is strengthened by our diversity, so by respecting our heterogeneity we are respecting our community. Accountability, from ensuring the safety of all within the college, or checking in with your friends down the hall, by being a student at Sancta, we all have a responsibility to look out for the physical and mental wellbeing of those in our community. Finally, courage, be proud of who you are, be inclusive, get involved.

The year at college will go quickly, it will come to a conclusion just as you feel you are feeling at home within the community. Savour what you can and enjoy yourself thoroughly. I wish everyone at Sancta the best of luck with the year ahead.