Justin Chilly - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Justin Chilly

USC social work student

I’m proud to think that I’m now part of the diverse people who go to USC. I guess I fit into a lot of different categories. I’m from Aboriginal descent and I’m an openly gay man, so I sit on a spectrum that’s a little different to other people. I feel like I can offer a unique perspective to the world, which allows me to gauge the world differently.

When I started my degree, I felt a bit like an outsider. I didn’t start my degree until I was 23 so I felt a bit alienated from students in my first-year courses who had just come from high school. They all had a plan in life about what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go. I almost had imposter syndrome. I wasn’t mentally at uni yet, so I had to fake it a lot.

I definitely didn’t engage much in the beginning because it felt like I was lying and didn’t really deserve to be here. Whereas I felt everyone else worked hard to be here. But after meeting a lot of people who came from diverse backgrounds I understood that I did work hard, and I did belong here. It wasn’t until I realised there were so many people here from different backgrounds, with different stories, that I understood my place in the University.

When I think of diversity, I think of people’s uniqueness. Nobody’s ever the same as the person next to them. But even though everyone is unique and different, we all share common bonds. It’s important to have diversity because it opens the world to different views. If you’re only looking at the world from the same perspective all the time, you’re never going to see the beauty in the differences.