Opportunity to make a difference

Published 07 May 2019

University of New England criminology graduate, Kaitlyn Sawtell, always knew that one day she wanted to be in a position where she could make a difference.

Growing up in Tamworth, NSW, Kaitlyn had initially ruled out attending UNE. But fate intervened and she fell in love with UNE’s beautiful campus when she visited Armidale to attend Open Day.

“An offer to study Criminology followed. I don't remember the exact moment it clicked that Criminology was the best decision but I do remember thinking I would like to be in a career where I can have an impact. Crime is always going to be an issue and I wanted to know why and how I could make significant changes,” Kaitlyn said.

A keen artist and photographer in her spare time, Kaitlyn finds inspiration in opportunity and people.

“I was especially inspired by the opportunity to learn – I didn’t take that for granted. I'm also inspired by the lives of other people, it's a reason I really like to travel. I think it's important to immerse yourself in the culture and lives of others in order to learn, grow and reflect on your own life,” Kaitlyn said.

“Learning, travelling and immersing myself into the cultures, lives and experiences of others, motivates me to be in a role where I can make a difference and hopefully encourage provide others with opportunities which will help them learn and grow.”

And while her study experience wasn’t without challenges, Kaitlyn credits the ongoing support she received from UNE’s Oorala Aboriginal Centre for helping her through the rough patches. She also encourages young people, unsure of whether tertiary education is for them, to take all the opportunities they are given.

“Coming to Armidale and UNE has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, I didn't think I would be able to graduate by the time I was 21 but I have. It's really wonderful to feel like I've set a good foundation for further study or employment opportunities at a reasonably young age.”

“There were so many things I didn't ever expect myself to be doing, such as living on campus, becoming a leader within a residential college, receiving scholarships to support my studies and working within the University.

“Reach out and access as much as you can to further your education and to have new and different experiences during your studies. It is often these things that make up for all of the struggles you will encounter.”

Kaitlyn, who was awarded a Bachelor of Criminology at UNE’s Autumn Graduation on Saturday, 4 May, has begun a full time position with the NSW Government in casework.