A sea change in reverse
Giving up the stress of city living and heading north to lead a quieter life in beachside towns like Byron Bay on the NSW north coast is such a common dream that it’s almost a cliché.
But UTS Law student, Dain Thomas, is reversing the dream – giving up this life to live in Sydney and study.
In his early 30’s, Dain was raising a young family in Byron and running his own business specialising in custom-made surfboards but he dreamt of studying and furthering his business knowledge.
He and his family left Byron and moved to Sydney where he chose to study at UTS – in part because of its impressive climb in the global rankings but also because of the central location and its edgy and modern reputation.
At first he was committed to a Business degree with Law ‘tacked on’ as almost an afterthought but his focus soon changed:
As I came to university for the first time at the age of 35, I figured I might as well do a combined degree to maximise my time. As the degree progressed, I became increasingly focused on the law side and soon realised I had found my calling. So,the plan to further my business knowledge has been replaced by the goal to practice law.
Dain is also impressed with UTS Law's commitment to social justice, citing Anti-Slavery Australia (ASA) and the Brennan Justice and Leadership Programme as two examples of what drew him to the UTS degree.
He signed up for the Brennan programme as soon as he started and says it’s helped raise his own awareness about social justice issues both locally and globally:
In a real-world sense, the Brennan programme has been the true education by showing me that lawyers can effect social change. The programme is also a great way to meet fellow law students who are similarly interested in social justice issues. It is interesting to see how students incorporate Brennan opportunities into work experience and networking with a view to social justice.
Coming back to study as a mature-age student is challenging enough but combining full-time study with the demands of a young family makes it even more so.
It’s meant significant life changes but fortunately Dain’s mother-in-law is a UTS Law alumni who understands the rigours of the course and helps out when she can.
Dain says while his studies are intense and sometimes stressful, he is thriving on the experience and the interaction with lecturers and other students:
I have met some amazing people from walks of life that I would never have come across but for the degree. The extended seminar format that UTS favours reinforces these relational aspects. Also, while sometimes confronting, I enjoy the participation component of seminars and tutorials.
While Dain has further years of study ahead of him, he can already see a clear path for his new professional life with plans to be admitted as a solicitor and perhaps work in the community sector – he is excited about his life after the law degree:
If I can use my degree to make a contribution to the cause of justice, then I feel I will have succeeded. I am incredibly lucky that I have been afforded even the possibility, midway through life, of a second career that is vastly different from my first. I appreciate my law degree for what it is; a challenging and fulfilling gift.