When Darryl Le received an email advising that he’d won a generous cash prize for graduating with the highest grade-point-average (GPA) in the Diploma of Communications, he had to convince himself it was real. Then he had to convince his sceptical family. “They were proud and everything,” he says, “but even my dad, when he came home that night said, ‘That can’t be right. They’re just giving you $5000?’” His mum suggested he check the sender details. That’s when Darryl realised it was a genuine UTS email. He was the winner of the Outstanding Graduate award.
The family sat down to a dinner of Peking Duck that evening. He says, “We hadn’t planned anything special. Nobody was expecting a celebration. It’s just what we were having that night. Getting the news was honestly crazy, and I’m so happy and honoured.”
Finding a pathway to UTS
Darryl is now preparing to enter the Bachelor of Communication (Writing and Publishing) at UTS. He completed high school in 2019, unsure of what he wanted to do next. “I just knew that, in my own time, I enjoyed exploring various topics on the internet, and analysing and using critical thinking on the texts I consumed in the media. I felt that, even if I didn’t have a clear direction, I should study something that interested me to stay motivated,” he says. “Then once I got my ATAR, I found out UTS College had a Diploma of Communication that could get me into UTS, and I thought that seemed like a perfect route for me.”
Adapting to online study
Due to the pandemic, Darryl’s UTS College experience was online – something quite new for him. “I had never done any sort of study online, and it was strange at first,” he says. “Meeting, being put in breakout rooms to do our group work or looking at different texts through a computer screen. But I got used to it quickly, and I think learning to work this way will be useful for the future.”
Collaborating with classmates on group tasks was another unexpected highlight. He says, “I never used to be fond of group work, but I was intrigued by every project. It was always something different and having so many different points of view was always interesting. I specially enjoyed working on presentations and scripts. And I just met a lot of very interesting people. Socialising was great, even if it was online.”
Meeting likeminded friends
Darryl was an active member of several societies since he started at UTS College. “At first, I thought I might not meet many people just from online classes, so I looked for clubs. I joined the Anime Society (Anime@uts), which is one of the biggest. Also, the Gamers’ Guild and Esports. I wanted to sign up for Badminton too, but that never really took off when everything went online.” He made some firm friendships through his extracurricular activities. “I made other friends through them and found out about other societies, like the different language societies that interested me – Japanese, Korean. And I met other people who speak Vietnamese. My family speaks Vietnamese at home. I’m not so great at it, but I’m glad I can speak two languages.”
Staying open to new experiences
Now that he’s moving on to UTS, Darryl is looking forward to studying on campus. “It’s great to know I’ll be physically in the university now. I enjoyed studying online, but it will be great to be there amongst my peers. It will be good to see how I can use what I learnt at UTS College in my studies,” he says.
At this stage, he’s not certain what he’ll do when he completes his degree, but Darryl can see many options to explore. “Communication is so broad and diverse,” he says. “I see a lot of interesting careers, like advertising, script writing, or maybe being an editor.” To anyone taking their first steps into tertiary study, Darryl suggests keeping an open mind. He says, “If you close yourself off to new experiences, you’ll probably end up regretting it. It’s going to be a very different experience from high school and there’ll be lots of things you haven’t done before. Just be yourself, be confident in who you are, think about the different things you want in your time as a uni student, and see how things go.”