From the Stories of our law school podcast series. By Grace Williams.
The undergraduate experience can sometimes be described as a ‘slog.’ It is something students fight their way through, hoping for a job at the end. At the University of Tasmania Law School, many students challenge the assumption of ‘the undergraduate slog’ by daringly stepping outside of the classroom, into their local and international communities; as leaders and change makers. A woman who has consistently challenged this ‘slog’ assumption is environmental activist and law student Ashleigh McCoach.
Ashleigh McCoach is in her final year of a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Science, majoring in geography and environmental science. Ashleigh’s passion about environmental issues has led her to serve as the president of the Student Environmental Law Society. In May 2017 Ashleigh was involved in the United Nations Climate change negotiation in Bonn, Germany. Her secondary school interest in climate change directed her to the world stage where she worked on conflict of interest issues in environmental policy, contributed towards less developed countries’ renewable energy initiatives, and worked on climate change adaptation. While in Germany, Ashleigh also provided pro-bono advice to support developing countries and environmental non-governmental organisations in the UN climate change negotiations.
Many students have taken part in the Law School’s International Justice Initiative, which supports students to engage in international affairs. Students like Camilla Moore and Lauren Hargrave, who attended the negotiations in Bonn with Ashleigh; and Gabby McDonald, Kate Raffety, Hedi White, Alice van Galen and Frances Medlock who helped with research for the negotiations, are all examples of undergraduate students who are taking leadership roles in the international community. These exceptional students have shown us what it looks like to challenge the assumption of the ‘undergraduate slog.’ Through their work they have revealed that the undergraduate experience doesn’t always have to be about getting through, but it can be about finding your passion and pursuing it on the world stage. By choosing to participate in solving the world’s problems these students have defied the common assumption that being an undergraduate is just a stepping stone to a successful career. They have shown us that the key to success is pursing your passion to change the world whole-heartedly.