Are you a budding actor, director, or stage manager with dreams of making it big in the entertainment industry? With Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Dramatic Art and Bachelor of Screen Production courses, not only will you be learning skills for the profession but you also have the opportunity to engage in an immersive three-month experience with the Oz to LA unit, taught in the heart of Hollywood.
The elective unit Oz to LA stands as an intensive training initiative hosted at the distinguished Los Angeles Performing Arts Conservatory. This unit transcends conventional classroom learning, providing unparalleled access to the inner workings of the entertainment business.
Standout features of the Oz to LA unit include the engagement in audition and casting sessions, participation in exclusive meetings with industry professionals, and attendance at conferences that provide insights into the inner workings of the entertainment landscape. This unique exposure sets Excelsia students apart, equipping them with practical knowledge and real-world experience.
Joss Chalmers, an alumnus of Excelsia College and former Bachelor of Dramatic Art student, attests to the unit’s impact on her journey. She emphasises the value of being taught by experienced professionals genuinely invested in the growth of their students, both as artists and individuals. Joss reflects on her time in Hollywood, stating, ‘Studying and training screen acting in Hollywood was a super inspiring experience.’
The Bachelor of Dramatic Art at Excelsia College spans three years full-time, offering two specialised strands: Performance, and Theatre Practice. This unique structure allows students to tailor their education to their specific career aspirations, be it acting, directing, stage management, or producing roles.
Excelsia College understands that pursuing dreams sometimes comes with financial challenges. To alleviate this burden, FEE-HELP is available for the tuition cost of the Oz to LA unit. For more information visit Oz to LA (https://excelsia.edu.au/study/oz-to-la-program/).
Luke Edward Smith undertook a diverse educational journey at Excelsia College, commencing with a Bachelor of Theology in 2004. However, midway through his studies, he transitioned to a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama) and successfully graduated in 2007.
Expressing initial uncertainty about his path, Luke shares, ‘I was drawn to theology but wasn’t entirely sure where it would lead. Having enjoyed drama in high school, the unique blend of creative arts at Excelsia intrigued me. I harboured a hope of getting involved artistically at some point, and Excelsia seemed like the perfect place for that to happen organically.’
Describing his time at Excelsia College, Luke characterises it as a blend of ‘faith, fun, and growth.’ The Student Centre and grassy knoll served as a central hub for students, fostering a sense of community and belonging. ‘It was always a very welcoming and inclusive place to study, with everyone being encouraging and supportive. The Gathering was also a great place to see the other departments do their thing.’
Luke fondly recalls the late-night rehearsals and show preparations as the highlights of his college days. ‘There was something exciting about knowing we were about to open a production and being in the car park late, chatting before we went home. The creative excitement and nerves and that feeling of having come together and created something with like-minded people.’
Post-graduation, Luke, along with some peers, founded Twisted Tree Theatre, a venture well-supported by the College and the Head of Drama. Reflecting on this experience, Luke notes, ‘It was incredibly well supported by the College and by the Head of Drama at the time. I think after working at our craft for three years, it was a tremendous stepping stone to producing and exploring work outside of a classroom environment. I think the discipline I learned during our study was really cemented when we were creating theatre together afterwards.’
In his current role as an actor in New York City and as actor, director, writer, and producer for Primitive Grace Theater Ensemble, Luke still uses the diverse skills acquired during his Excelsia days. Collaborating with other companies and film productions, he remains active in the performing arts. Luke was credited this year on ‘Playbill’ for his show at the Gene Frankel Theater with his ongoing work at the Actors Studio.
Luke acknowledges Excelsia’s impact on countless lives and hopes for its enduring spirit. ‘The friendships I made and the training I received will stay with me for the rest of my life. I hope the spirit of the College endures and that the students coming through are able to enjoy their time there as much as I did.’
In 1999, Excelsia College was the only Christian college in Australia offering graphic design degree courses. Erica Brooks was looking for a learning environment that offered her the ability to earn real world qualifications whilst studying graphic design in a faith-based environment. Enter Excelsia College which ticked all the boxes! For Erica, she got to immerse herself fully in the College experience as she studied on site at Excelsia College’s old Drummoyne campus and lived in student housing in Leichhardt. ‘I have a tonne of fond memories! One of my favourite aspects was just how interdisciplinary we all were. All the departments mixed, we all knew each other, and there were so many opportunities to explore, express and develop different aspects of our creativity without feeling limited to one discipline. It was an enormously creative, collaborative environment’, explains Erica. Erica uses the words ‘earnest, revolutionary and exceptional’ to describe her experience at Excelsia. ‘The College was earnest in that it was founded on deep, authentic belief. This belief wasn’t just founded in God, but in the idea that creative individuals had a valuable place in Christian ministry – and this permeated college culture.’ Excelsia College’s founders David and Marianna Johnston helped to shape this special culture and still hold a special place in Erica’s heart. ‘This couple had ambitious vision, charismatic leadership, passion, and tenacity. The fact Excelsia exists in Australia is due to the pioneering work they did in this field, creating a place for Christian liberal arts education in Australia where there was no previous tradition or history in the country. What they achieved was so impressive, and the learning environment they built was unique.’
Excelsia College offered built-in theological components to their art degrees which included a year of Old Testament Survey, a year of New Testament Survey, and a year of Biblical Exegesis. ‘There were historical photos on the walls that charted the journey of Excelsia from its inception to the iteration I experienced. It evolved and developed over the years, and it was cool being part of that history’, says Erica. As a relatively small Christian liberal arts college, Erica believes the College was exceptional in terms of the quality of teaching staff and calibre of the courses. ‘The lecturers and educators in the arts and design faculty were practitioners with their own successful careers and many also taught at Sydney’s most prestigious design schools.’ Erica continues, ‘Our design training was robust and practical enough for me and many of my classmates to confidently transition into contract work in our final year, which was a great start to professional working life.’ Erica found the human-centred, design thinking approach they were taught in class was applicable in multiple fields and industries, not just graphic design. ‘As part of my design history and theory training, I was introduced to critical thinking for the first time, and it revolutionised how I interacted and engaged with the world.’ During her time at Excelsia, Erica also experienced two big philosophical shifts, including learning to compete with herself instead of with others and embracing play and failure. ‘Coming from the standardised schooling system, I’d been raised to seek and compete for high marks. As I entered my third year of College, I made a conscious decision to leave that practice behind in favour of focusing on doing work I could genuinely say I was proud of – that became the goal. To my immense surprise, high marks were a byproduct. It continues to be a liberatory approach’, reflects Erica.
Since finishing her studies in 2001, Erica has gone on to have a career that has taken her all over the world, working in design, marketing, startups, event production, film and media production, media analysis, research, communications, and executive management. She now works for a government innovation agency in Aotearoa, New Zealand as an employee experience designer. ‘I utilise participatory design to build a community driven organisational culture focused around wellbeing, diversity, equity and inclusion’, explains Erica. Whilst Erica’s life has led her outside the Christian faith, she remains grateful for her college education experience. ‘I hope every Excelsia student has educational experiences as formative and rich as my own.’ Excelsia College is proud to foster creativity in its students and is proud of the journeys our graphic design alumni have gone on. If you want to join a life-transforming institution, then Excelsia College is the place for you. Check out our course offerings on our website https://excelsia.edu.au/
The William Byrd Fellowship was created to further strengthen the research profile of Excelsia College. It connects the academic community with opportunities to engage with professional choral and vocal musicians, nationally and internationally. The Fellowship will be primarily research-focused with seminars, masterclasses and public performances each semester. The aim is to undertake international and national competitive and high-quality research that will be featured in Tier 1 research journals and publications. This will contribute to music research and scholarship within a Christian worldview. These Tier 1 publications are peer-reviewed as falling within the top 25 percentile ranking based on the real-world impact of the research.
The Fellowship also enables world-class musical practitioners with a passion for improving the performance and understanding of sacred music to understand better the relevance of their music and music-making to local, regional, national, and international communities.
Together with academics and performers, the Fellow will identify and explore mutual interests in Christian sacred music; as well as develop and leverage professional, academic, and technological networks and other resources to generate benefits to music-making in concert and in worship, research, and the wider world.
The first William Byrd Fellow is Antony Pitts, who takes up the newly inaugurated Fellowship in 2023 in honour of the 400th anniversary of the death of the great composer William Byrd. Antony has worked in broadcasting as a Senior Producer for the BBC, as a Senior Lecturer in creative technology at the Royal Academy of Music and was the Artistic Director of Australia’s national vocal ensemble The Song Company for seven years. His music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded on several continents, most notably by his award-winning British ensemble TONUS PEREGRINUS.
As part of the William Byrd Fellowship, Antony Pitts has been commissioned to compose a piece of music for Excelsia Choir that will be performed at the College graduation ceremony in 2025. Through this work, there will be opportunities to mentor students and staff.
Dr Lex Akers, lecturer in Integrative Studies at Excelsia College, is also a pastor and church leader in the Wesleyan Methodist Church (WMC) of Australia. With 25 years of leadership and pastoral ministry, he is able to provide his unique insights in teaching the Christian message to students across all faiths and denominations. As Father’s Day approaches this Sunday 3 September, Lex shares his thoughts about the relevance of fathers from a Christian perspective.
Father’s Day evokes a spectrum of emotions. For many, it’s an occasion to commemorate and cherish our dads, filling our hearts with family love and joy. For some, it stands as a painful reminder of their inability to have children. Yet for others, it’s a day they’d rather avoid, shielding themselves from memories of a father who brought them pain.
Navigating certain Scriptures on this topic can elicit a similar range of emotions. So, how do we embrace the joys of Father’s Day without overshadowing the pains that some might feel? How can we remain sensitive to everyone’s experiences, while still honoring the essential role of fathers?
For me, the answer lies in the teachings and life of Jesus. In John 14:9b, Jesus proclaims, ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’ This is as if to say, ‘To understand God, observe me. I’m the purest reflection of the Father.’ Basing our notions of Father’s Day solely on our earthly fathers or just the Old Testament might lead us to a skewed perspective of fatherhood. However, looking to Jesus, the God/man, reveals a richer image. We witness a figure embodying love, compassion, tenderness, and care; someone who uplifts the downtrodden but corrects the proud. Delving into the Gospels, we see Jesus continually shining a spotlight on the nature of His Father – a journey that’s both enlightening and heartening.
While it’s crucial to recognise the sorrow some associate with Father’s Day, Jesus’ example serves as a beacon of hope, nudging us to continually strive for better. Reflecting on Jesus’ portrayal of the Father, here are some fatherly attributes we can all aspire to:
- Unconditional love: Fathers should love their children selflessly and unconditionally, independent of their actions or decisions.
- Mercy and forgiveness: It’s essential for fathers to forgive readily, avoiding resentment. Being understanding of their children’s errors and granting them another chance reflects divine mercy.
- Compassion: Fathers should show empathy and understanding, prioritising support and guidance over judgement.
- Desire for relationship: A deep and open relationship with their children is paramount, mirroring Jesus’ closeness with the Father.
- Righteousness and justice: Instilling values of morality, integrity, and justice in their children is a father’s responsibility, both within the family and in the world at large.
- Teaching and wisdom: Through guidance, shared experiences, and wisdom, fathers play a vital role in shaping their children’s lives.
- Humility: Demonstrating humility, acknowledging mistakes, and showing readiness to apologise can leave a lasting impression on children.
- Inclusivity: Fathers should foster values of inclusivity, teaching children to respect and love all, irrespective of differences.
On behalf of Excelsia College, we would like to wish all the wonderful fathers and father figures in our lives a happy Father’s Day.
Have you been considering a career in counselling or wanting to integrate counselling skills and mental health knowledge into your current profession? There is set to be a strong job growth in the counselling sector, with positions rising to 27,800 counsellors by 2026, according to Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026. So there’s no better time to consider studying counselling at Excelsia College in 2024. With flexibility in the way you study and the ability to work while you learn, you can fit your studies to suit your lifestyle.
For those curious to see whether counselling could be a suitable career path, Excelsia College offers a Graduate Certificate in Counselling. Students will undertake foundational subjects such as ‘Approaches to Mental Health’ and ‘Counselling Theories and Models’ over six months full-time study. For those set on practising as a counsellor, there is a Graduate Diploma of Counselling and Master of Counselling. Excelsia’s counselling courses are taught from a Christian framework and look at not only the emotional and psychological wellbeing of individuals but also spiritual wellbeing.
Graduate Diploma of Counselling applicants may be admitted if they have previously successfully completed a relevant bachelor degree or bachelor honours degree, but applicants without such undergraduate qualifications can apply for admission via the work and life experience pathway which includes experience in relevant paid or volunteer work or contribution to church life. Graduates can go on to the Master of Counselling and build on their theoretical knowledge. Within the Master’s program, students will undertake 100 hours of placement involving direct client contact hours, undertake 25 hours of clinical supervision, and have free personal counselling. Real-world experience gives graduates the confidence to practise as counsellors within their selected area, including agencies, community health centres, hospitals or in private practice.
Both the Graduate Diploma of Counselling and Master of Counselling are formally accredited by the Australian Counselling Association (ACA), and the Master’s program is also accredited by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA).
Excelsia College is also pleased to introduce our new senior lecturer in counselling Lauren Poole. Lauren holds a PhD in Psychology and a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice from Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom. She also holds a Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy from the Australian College of Applied Professions (ACAP) and is a PACFA Certified Practising Counsellor. With over 10 years’ experience in higher education teaching across four institutions in the disciplines of psychology and counselling, as well as experience in curriculum design and course coordination, Lauren is ready to use her experience and expertise to help train and equip our counselling students.
Our students have been deeply impacted by our counselling courses, just ask Anna Greenwell. The 2022 Valedictorian shared in her graduation speech, ‘I am grateful for having chosen Excelsia College. The task of forming courageous, competent and compassionate mental health practitioners is critical for our society and Excelsia has prepared us well. The “Excelsia” approach lifted our gaze and taught us to see our clients beyond a set of behaviours, and beyond the mere need to adapt to an environment or situation, to truly receive the unique individual in front of us.
I am encouraged, inspired, and humbled to be part of my new profession and I hope you, too, share my excitement and sense of privilege, in getting to be a “holder of hope” and witnessing the healing and restoration this brings to people’s lives.’
If you feel inspired to make a positive difference in the lives of others like Anna and want to learn counselling within a Christian framework, why not explore Excelsia College’s counselling courses today? https://excelsia.edu.au/study/counselling/
George Zhao studied the Bachelor of Dramatic Art at Excelsia College and graduated in 2015. He’s been determined to pave a way in the acting industry and landed his breakout role as Andrew Law in SBS TV’s drama-comedy series The Family Law in 2016.
He also won the Rising Star Award at the Casting Guild of Australia (CGA) in 2018 and an MEAA (Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance) Best Ensemble Cast for comedy for his role in The Family Law. He’s also acted in the film Runaway Millionaires in 2019.
For George, it was a chance encounter in even finding out about Excelsia College (then Wesley Institute), after coming across the campus during a visit with a chaplain he was working for at the time. After deciding that Excelsia was the right fit for him, George enrolled in the Bachelor of Dramatic Art and was able to develop an in-depth insight into acting within a supportive and caring environment. ‘My lecturers didn’t shy away from the harshness of the industry that I would be going into.’
Through the guidance of his peers and teachers, George undertook a lot of self-discovery. ‘I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Excelsia was the perfect place to cultivate crafts.’ Excelsia College endeavors to know its students by name and not by number and George appreciated this close-knit community. ‘The classes were small and frequent and allowed me to develop strong relationships with my classmates. Eventually I saw my classmates as more than my family; they shared my worries, joys and passions.’
George describes Excelsia as ‘hopeful, community and love’. He continues, ‘The fact that Excelsia still stands as a recognised beacon of creativity and faith is a testament to the passion and care of those working in the institution.’
There’s no doubt George has worked hard to carve out roles for himself as he explains, ‘I am still in the acting industry, but with more bruises, scars and a grizzled adventure beard. Joking. I’m Asian, I couldn’t grow a beard if I paid for it.’ Most recently George starred in Gold Diggers, an ABC show set in Australia during the 1850s where he plays the love interest of the younger sister. He also performed in a one-man show at the Opera House called Yong by Monkey Baa Theatre Company.
If you’re curious about exploring a career in the creative and performing arts industry and want to learn from industry professionals, why not explore our Bachelor of Dramatic Art? You never know the foundations it could set for you like it did for George.
Riley Clemmons is a 23-year-old American Christian musician who plays Christian pop style contemporary worship music. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is known for her Christian radio hits ‘Keep on Hoping’ and ‘Broken Prayers’. Across the globe, over 527.5 million people have streamed Riley’s music and she has had 85 million YouTube video views since starting her music journey a decade ago. Riley skyrocketed onto the scene with her 2017 Capitol CMG debut single ‘Broken Prayers’, which has generated over 56 million global streams since its release.
The talented musician will be performing ‘Fighting For Me’ which has received over 147.5 million streams, as well as ‘For The Good’ and ‘Loved By You’ at The Gathering next Wednesday 30 August. On top of this, the rising star will be running voice talent and song-writing workshops for those interested. Attendees will also have the chance to ask any questions they may have.
All Excelsia College staff, students, alumni and the community are welcome to attend this free event. Seating is limited so make sure you secure your spot at the following Eventbrite link https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/riley-clemmons-in-sydney-tickets-695753687007
Gordon Bobin, Chief Strategy Officer and Director of Quality at Excelsia College is responsible for quality and strategy across the College. Having worked previously in secondary education and educational administration for over a decade, Gordon is taking the next step in educational leadership as a Board Member of The McDonald College. ‘What attracted me to The McDonald College was their unique model for learning and teaching, where students have the opportunity to pursue a range of different pursuits and explore their various talents while still maintaining a high-level of focus on their academic development. The college takes a collaborative approach to achieve this, working with parents and students to understand how they learn best, and supporting them in the areas they feel most passionate about.’
Gordon originally had no specific intentions to work in the higher education sector. God changed Gordon’s heart after he felt inspired by the College’s vision of becoming Australia’s first multi-denominational Christian university. ‘It was about wanting to be part of that journey and something greater than myself that really inspired me. Since then, it’s probably been the best decision of my career,’ explains Gordon.
Through taking that first uncertain step, Gordon has learned to trust the path before him and develop the patience for God’s plans for him, even if they aren’t obvious straight away. God was also able to use Gordon’s understanding of education and relating to students in his role. ‘Developing and applying emotional intelligence is something you need to have when you’re dealing with adolescents and students that are going through difficult times.’
Gordon believes the best way to demonstrate his beliefs and values is by example and by being the best person he can be. ‘I like to show people my values through my actions rather than through my words. I hope people would find me to have good morals and ethics by my actions and the way I interact with others. It’s about trying to live that as best I can.’ It is this kindness which Gordon imparts to all that he engages with in his daily life, and he has learned to always try to speak and act with kindness. ‘I was brought up to always be respectful of others, and in my career, I have always done my best to demonstrate this with my team and colleagues.’
When people share a common set of values like staff and students at Excelsia College, including a desire to be Christ-like, innovative and creative, as well as lifelong learners, it is amazing what can be achieved. At Excelsia, Gordon has been blown away at the levels of what people are capable of. ‘Throughout my time at Excelsia, I’ve witnessed a number of achievements in the life of the College, including seeing the College expand from three to five schools, increase its number of courses, and grow significantly in student numbers. None of these things happen without God and without a great group of people all working as one team.’
Reflecting on Excelsia’s 40 years of Christian higher education, Gordon says, ‘The College has come a very long way in these past few years, but I think that even greater things are still to come. This year’s fortieth anniversary celebrations are a perfect opportunity for us to reflect on where we’ve come from and celebrate where we are, but also look to the future and move forward with great optimism.’
If you want to be a part of a workplace where you can grow and develop in your career, why not visit our website for job opportunities? https://excelsia.edu.au/
Excelsia College loved celebrating with alumni at the College’s 40th anniversary celebrations on Saturday 5 August. It was such a special time of meeting together and seeing how far the College has come. Staff and alumni also spent time in worship and sung ‘Goodness of God’ and ‘What A Beautiful Name’, two songs that perfectly encapsulate God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout the four decades of the College.
Chief Executive Peter McKeon shared some words and reflections with the people gathered and gifts were exchanged including custom-made soy vanilla candles and Excelsia College’s 40th anniversary book, complete with 40 alumni stories.
Chris Cerinich, a 2006 Bachelor of Creative Arts Music Performance alumnus, found the event the perfect opportunity to worship with his classmates: ‘It was a great day out and a lovely way to reconnect with classmates I hadn’t seen in over 16 years,’ he explains.
Vonnie Ho, 2022 counselling graduate, likewise had a positive experience as she explained, ‘I felt so happy to be back at Excelsia College for a visit! It’s been so wonderful to see how the College has grown, get to know other alumni, and listen to their stories. I must say I had a “goosebumps” experience when we worshipped together; it made me miss the good old days of worshipping in College again!’
For Class of 2006 alumnus Kim Rodgers, it was a walk down memory lane, reconnecting with old classmates. ‘The open day was a vibrant atmosphere showcasing Excelsia as it is now and celebrating the past 40 years. It was a pleasure seeing photographs of old friends and reminiscing with those who were present, and it was a surprise to be treated to a high tea and gifts!’
Excelsia College is proud of the graduates who have gone out to positively impact the world and look forward to continuing to strive towards university college status.
You can view a pdf version of Excelsia College’s 40th anniversary book here.