Not many aspiring actors can say they’ve played a centipede, old man, pastor, biblical character, and Shakespearean role, but Tim Lim can! Tim’s effervescent personality embodies every role he plays, both onstage and offstage. The Bachelor of Dramatic Art graduate most recently played one of the lead roles as Elihu, the comforter of Job and his three friends in Excelsia Productions’ movie 18. The Book of Job. It was filmed onsite at Excelsia College and saw the auditorium transformed into a desert setting, full of sand! For Tim, learning lines is part and parcel of being an actor but having to memorise five chapters of the biblical book of Job was no mean feat! Tim also graced us with his acting skills in last year’s inaugural CAPAxFest, which highlighted our creative and performing arts students’ works, and in Excelsia’s productions James and the Giant Peach, A Twelfth night and The Chairs. He also wrote a play, Rapture (2021), as part of his third-year major project, about a pastor who lost his family and cried out against God.
Since finishing the Bachelor of Dramatic Art last year, Tim now works as a student services assistant and receptionist at Excelsia College. ‘At Excelsia my days involve me greeting everyone that comes in and being the first point of contact for anyone who needs help with directions or information.’ In dealing with people’s inquiries on a daily basis, God has taught Tim the value of patience, revealed to him in his personal faith journey. ‘God’s grace has no bounds. He is always here even when he seems absent.’ It is God’s grace and character that Tim seeks to embody through trying to make everyone’s day a little bit better by being a positive force in the environment. ‘Carry yourself with love as if you were someone you were responsible for looking after and in turn you can look after others.’ This ties closely to Tim’s favourite Bible verse, Jeremiah 15:16, which says, ‘When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.’
Tim describes Excelsia as inspiring, ambitious, and versatile and it is this passion for the College that makes him a perfect ambassador. ‘The sheer amount of diverse age groups, cultures, faculties and people create a fascinating environment where interactions, events and conversations are constantly riveting,’ he explains.
Earlier this year Tim was given a Bible reading plan from a friend which included a passage from Job. ‘This was a book I had been meaning to read for a long time since it dealt with the concepts of suffering and justice in the world. The timing was too uncanny and coincidental as I was then cast in Excelsia Productions’ 18. The Book of Job. I loved the idea of bringing this piece of biblical literature to a format more easily consumed such as screen or theatre, where characters can be seen living and breathing not just talking in biblical verses. I was satisfied to finally serve God using my craft.’
Outside of work, Tim likes to keep a busy and active lifestyle and boils down his interests to four Fs, ‘Faith, fitness, fashion, and food. When I’m not working, I’m trying to improve or explore these aspects of life. I like to try different restaurants around Sydney or make colourful outfits for going out. Then I try to exercise and pray that the clothes still fit!’ he explains. As for his acting aspirations, Tim says, ‘I mainly want to be in films and commercials or as a voice actor. For now, I’m just excited to see where the wind blows.’
We can’t wait to see Tim in 18. The Book of Job once the film is released next year! If you want to be part of a nurturing community where you can tap into your creative side and build your confidence, why not explore Excelsia College’s School of Creative and Performing Arts?
Combining her passions for teaching and dance and being able to juggle overseas work and study was what attracted Tracey McKenzie to Excelsia College when she commenced her Master of Teaching (Secondary) in 2019.
‘I chose to study at Excelsia as it allowed me the flexibility of travelling and working overseas while completing my studies in my own time, with no locked in online weekly classes to attend and content delivered up front so you could work through the course at your own pace,’ explains Tracey. At the time she commenced her studies, Tracey was working as a professional dancer with contracts including Moulin Rouge in Paris, Benidorm Palace in Spain and Carnival Cruise Line, a role she had been doing for twenty years. ‘I didn’t always have a goal to work overseas, however getting paid to travel and do what I loved was a dream. I started studying for my degree while I was away on contracts as a plan for after my dancing career.’
Due to completing the course 100 per cent remotely, Tracey missed out on College experiences such as socialising with fellow classmates and teachers, attending Bible studies, chapel and onsite functions. Despite the distance, Tracey still found the College to be flexible, understanding and nurturing. ‘I always felt included as a valued student and part of the Excelsia community. I must give credit to all the teachers that checked in on me and took a genuine interest in my teaching specialty and professional career in dance. I could not have completed the course without their support,’ Tracey reflects.
Alongside her professional dance career, Tracey found content and coursework both relevant and relatable. ‘I was studying subjects such as “leadership, creativity and innovation” and “transformation in education”. In my first year of teaching, I found myself referring to teaching strategies and leadership tools I had learned during my time at Excelsia when I was managing casts of dancers and singers. These tools allowed me to successfully facilitate maximum growth of performers throughout the contracts and also ensured the cast stayed positive and motivated to achieve their own goals. Excelsia enabled me to see the value of my own skills I had acquired through dancing and apply them in an education setting, which is one of the greatest benefits I have found that assisted me through transitioning careers.’
Despite not coming from a Christian background, studying through a Christian framework at Excelsia College realigned Tracey with her core values in cultivating compassion and understanding, while also practising daily acts of gratitude. ‘I learned to trust not only in myself but the process, believing that the universe will provide me with the right tools in times of need and giving me purpose in my life once again,’ she explains.
Tracey completed her Master of Teaching (Secondary) in December 2021 and now teaches Dance at Strathmore Secondary College in Melbourne and works at The Australian Ballet.
If you want to study teaching in a supportive Christian environment and explore your faith, why not consider Excelsia’s Master of Teaching (Secondary)? You could combine your two passions just like Tracey has!
Filmmaking is a lifelong passion, and for students like Luke O’Donnell studying the craft now is laying the groundwork for a lifetime of screen storytelling.
As the inaugural winner and scholarship recipient of the Excelsia & Sydney Film School Award (ESFSA), Luke O’Donnell shares an update from his experience and journey so far as a first-year student studying the Bachelor of Screen Production:
‘Being a part of Excelsia College and Sydney Film School’s Bachelor of Screen Production course for the past year has been an absolutely fantastic experience. Being in an environment with like-minded students and teachers has been incredibly valuable and really contributes to the overall practicality of the course. Learning from teachers with years of industry experience and knowledge enhances our studies and provides a firsthand insight into the opportunities available within the film industry. The mix of both theory and practical classes and activities alongside the interactions with both Excelsia’s acting students and those at Sydney Actors School provides a fantastic learning environment where we can easily understand the broader aspects of the film industry while developing connections with our future colleagues.’
Luke’s ESFSA-winning film Until the End was predicated upon a longing for the past. It recalls the fleeting nature of existence within the human experience and seeks to lament the true reality of relationships which often mean so much to us.
‘Things come to an end. People move on, some for better, some for worse but memories linger and that’s what keeps us going, keeps pushing us forward until the end.’
If you have stories to tell and want to pursue a career in filmmaking like Luke, we welcome your submission to the Excelsia & Sydney Film School Award. Select award winners will receive a scholarship for their first year of study in the Bachelor of Screen Production.
Entries close 27 January 2023, find out more today! https://excelsia.edu.au/study/creative-and-performing-arts/excelsia-and-sydney-film-school-award/
Friends’ opinions can weigh heavily on deciding where to study, just ask Willem New. Hearing about a friend’s positive experience studying a Bachelor of Music at Wesley Institute (now Excelsia College) after making a career change from information technology was the catalyst Willem needed when he decided to enrol in the same course, also making the shift from IT and customer service-based roles. Returning to study 10 years after leaving school is no easy transition, however Willem found Excelsia College helpful for getting back into the mindset of learning new things. ‘The College pushed me in my musical learning and helped me become a better musician through constant opportunities to perform. It was an environment that was vibrant, engaging and growth oriented. I found a community of amazing artists who were all extremely willing to help each other grow and learn. That hasn’t changed – I’m still in touch with many of my peers from my time as a Bachelor of Music student,’ explains Willem.
After graduating from Excelsia College with a Bachelor of Music in 2012, Willem went on to complete his Graduate Diploma in Education in 2015. Now he works as a music teacher at Greenacre Baptist Christian Community School (GBCCS), a small independent school in south-west Sydney. As the sole music teacher, Willem hopes to inspire students to enjoy music and learning in general from a range of subjects. ‘At GBCCS I help to produce musical productions, help students to smash out amazing performances and journey with them on an exploration of who they are and who they can become,’ he says.
One of Willem’s favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 41:10 which says, ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ Willem explains, ‘There’s a lot of fear everywhere these days and in the creative and performing arts department at my school, something we focus on is the idea that we can “create without fear”. Kids are fearful of failing, fearful of being ridiculed, fearful of looking like a goose in front of their peers, fearful of someone else being better than them. God has made us to be creative beings and He is always with us, so we have nothing to fear when we create but everything to gain. Any failures are an opportunity to learn and do it better next time; anyone who’s better than us is someone to be inspired by, not defeated by; any naysayers are an opportunity to strengthen resolve and overcome challenge,’ Willem explains.
As for his highlights during his time at Excelsia College, Willem’s end-of-degree recital was a definite highlight. ‘Performing incredible pieces with a massive band of fellow students who really pushed me to play my best was absolutely wonderful. Beyond that, memories of rehearsing choir parts for performance at the Sydney Opera House, learning how to really compose new music and jamming out tunes at the drop of a hat will always stay with me,’ he says.
Vonnie Ho has travelled a winding road in her pursuit to becoming a counsellor, juggling family expectations and changing courses. Working part-time in the hospitality industry whilst studying a Bachelor of Business exposed Vonnie to a diverse range of individuals and hearing her colleagues and customers past experiences, traumas, and family history ultimately affirmed her decision to become a counsellor. Vonnie decided to commit to this dream in 2019 when she commenced her Master of Counselling at Excelsia College. Fast forward to May 2022 and she enjoyed graduating with her cohort at Wesley Mission Conference Centre!
Vonnie was attracted to Excelsia because she wanted to learn counselling theory not only from a clinical world view, but also a Christian world view. ‘The diversity of the community in Excelsia College gives us the opportunity to make friends and connections with students within not only the counselling school but also other schools. At the same time, the small classes allowed us to build strong relationships with our peers. The staff members such as student support and the chaplain organise a lot of college activities, chapel services and Bible studies which create a caring and supportive environment for the student’s learning in college.’ As a Christian, Vonnie enjoyed getting involved in the College’s Bible study and also answering questions from her classmates who were exploring Christianity. ‘I felt very encouraged by my peers and also enjoyed the time to pray together and reading God’s Word,’ she explains.
During her time at Excelsia, Vonnie was trained with different counselling skills, had placement experience in the field and received one-on-one confidential counselling on campus as part of her course. ‘This gave me a great opportunity to foster my personal growth as a counsellor.’ Now, Vonnie is juggling different jobs and exploring her future career in counselling within a variety of different work contexts. This includes working with immigrants, using her multilingual abilities to relate to clients in English, Chinese and Malay, as well as working in one of the biggest psychiatric hospitals in Australia, with an Employee Assistance Program company and also running her own private practice.
One of Vonnie’s favourite quotes is by Henri J. M. Nouwen which says, ‘Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of freshwater from the depth of our pain.’ Vonnie explains, ‘I trust that each and every experience of our life shapes us for who we are and they are all different gifts of God. Sometimes we may have difficult feelings around, and that’s how it makes us human, the experiences in joy and trials walking with God.’ Vonnie values the importance of therapeutic relationships and in providing a safe space where individuals feel heard and supported with life’s challenges.
Studying during the beginning of the pandemic was both challenging and unsettling as classes moved online and students and staff didn’t know when they would be back on campus. Despite this, Excelsia College aimed to provide practical support to staff and students doing it particularly tough, something Vonnie is grateful for. ‘Even though we were unable to meet physically, I could still see how the staff and students were willing to support one another. The students also came up with a food donation drive for their friends who were financially struggling. I remember how a lot of our lecturers checked in with us, knowing that some of the students were struggling, which still warms my heart to this day.’
Part of Excelsia College’s values are to exemplify the life of Christ in our commitments, actions and in our relationships, and it is this community which Vonnie describes as ‘Christlike, inclusive and authentic’. Vonnie is reminded of God’s faithfulness, both in the good times and the bad times, also reflected through her favourite Bible verse Romans 8:28 which says, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ This verse reminds me again of how God is faithful to each and every one of us, whether in good times or bad times. We can trust that God still loves us even if living in difficult times or uncertainties.’ Vonnie is now able to integrate her faith into her work as a counsellor and offers faith-based services to clients.
If you want to study counselling from a Christian perspective in a nurturing, supportive environment, why not explore our Graduate Diploma of Counselling and Master of Counselling? Alternative pathways are available if you do not have the required study.
Excelsia College has ranked highly in the 2021 Student Experience Survey for three major areas for both undergraduate and postgraduate student experience including teaching quality, student support and skills development. The QILT Student Experience Survey is Australia’s only comprehensive survey of current higher education students, measuring student satisfaction data across both university and non-university higher education institutions.
Compared to other non-university higher education institutions (NUHEIs), Excelsia’s undergraduate results performed high in teaching quality at 89.5% student satisfaction, compared to the NUHEI average of 81%. We also performed high in student support at 85.4% student satisfaction, compared to the NUHEI of 79%. Excelsia’s overall skills development was 89.5%, higher than the NUHEI average of 81%.*
Excelsia’s postgraduate results performed highly in teaching quality at 83.5% student satisfaction, above than the national average of 80%, while student support scored 85.6%, higher than the national average of 74%, and overall skills development had 81.6% student satisfaction, compared to a national average of 79%.**
For undergraduate students, Excelsia’s quality of entire educational experience scored 84.6%, higher than the NUHEI average of 74%.***
Excelsia College’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter McKeon, welcomed the results saying, ‘It’s a testament to the high calibre of our teaching staff and Excelsia’s ongoing commitment to delivering an excellent education to our students as our priority.’
This outstanding accomplishment solidifies Excelsia’s positioning as a well-recognised college both domestically and internationally. It also reinforces the College’s commitment to providing our community with the opportunity to study in a student-focused college in Sydney, whilst striving for the best in teaching quality, student support, and skills development to make a significant contribution to society that extends beyond the classroom.
Media contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
*QILT. (2021). 2021 SES Report Tables. 2021 Student Experience Survey. https://www.qilt.edu.au/surveys/student-experience-survey-(ses)
** QILT. (2021). 2021 SES Report Tables. 2021 Student Experience Survey. https://www.qilt.edu.au/surveys/student-experience-survey-(ses)
*** QILT. (2021). 2021 SES Report Tables. 2021 Student Experience Survey. https://www.qilt.edu.au/surveys/student-experience-survey-(ses)
Karen Anson graduated from Excelsia College with a Master of Music in 2019, with an interest in low flutes (flutes that play below the range of the standard orchestral C flute). For Karen, wanting to finish her degree at a smaller campus in person drew her to Excelsia, an environment that she describes as ‘welcoming, supportive and community minded’.
‘I felt very welcomed from the start by the other students from the music department and staff. I enjoyed being a part of the practical shows and concert practice (cp’s) and as a master’s student I felt welcomed and happy to be the first to present a practice-led research thesis of Australian low flute repertoire,’ explains Karen. For nearly 22 years Karen has been part of concert bands, first joining only six months after starting flute lessons! She performed with South Pacific Concert Band for over seven years and for the past two years has played with Camden Community band.
Karen was working for the Department of Education as a primary school teacher when she first commenced her studies at Excelsia College. She had experience working as a conductor and tutor of woodwind and brass instruments within the public school system, but she was striving towards a lifelong goal. ‘The most motivation I had throughout the degree was the fact that I was completing a lifelong goal of becoming a music teacher. Some mantras I lived by throughout my studies are “never give up” and “follow your dreams” and I still carry these mantras with me to this day.’
Excelsia helped open doors for Karen to work within new school contexts. ‘Now, I teach a school wind band program through the Amadeus Music instrumental program within the Sydney Catholic Schools system, something I hadn’t done previously.’
One of Karen’s highlights during her time at Excelsia from 2017 to 2019 was presenting and premiering two new Australian low flute pieces to the College community as part of her thesis, one of which has now been published through Middle C Music company, who publish music scores. She performed this piece on flute (not alto flute) for the Band Association of New South Wales’ state solo contest on 25 June this year, in the open flute and piccolo section and was awarded first place!
She also premiered an alto flute piece for her last recital at Excelsia. ‘Taking part in showcase nights as a master’s student alongside the undergraduate students is up there as one of my favourite times at the College,’ says Karen. ‘I had a wonderful small support group of friends and my fabulous flute teacher who totally believed in my abilities even when I didn’t and never let me settle for second best or give up.’
If you have a passion for music like Karen and want to study an instrument or specialise in a particular area of music, why not explore where Excelsia College’s Master of Music can take you? With passionate staff and leading industry professionals to learn from, Excelsia College can be the place that will extend you.
Excelsia’s commitment to community engagement is important to the mission and ethos of the College and we were fortunate to donate towards the $12 million renovation of Wesley Edward Eagar Centre in Bourke Street, Surry Hills and pleased to see the renovation upgrades come to fruition. Our CEO Peter McKeon was present at the opening of the renovated Centre which provides emergency accommodation to forty homeless men and women.
According to Wesley Mission CEO and Superintendent Rev Stu Cameron, an estimated 300 people sleep rough on Sydney’s inner-city streets per night, motivating the Centre in seeking to bring hope back into these individuals’ lives. Individuals can become homeless due to a range of reasons such as mental illness, domestic violence, family breakdowns or financial difficulties, made harder through COVID-19.
Since 1979, Wesley Mission has been providing crisis accommodation to vulnerable men and women experiencing homelessness. It was also one of the first services to provide private rooms. The refurbishments to Wesley Edward Eagar Centre will allow vulnerable individuals to find peace and new hope.
Peter McKeon explains, ‘I was really proud to attend the Edward Eagar Centre homeless shelter which we contributed a donation to. We started as Wesley Institute, and as a community it’s important we give back.’
At Excelsia College we believe our students should have access to innovative and cutting-edge technologies. We believe in creating an equal starting line for students with the latest education tools to succeed in their studies.
As part of our innovative trial pilot project titled ‘Lumenate’, the College has recently partnered with Apple’s Education team to roll out the latest iPad Air to our Bachelor of Business (Accounting) cohort. Students will trial the iPad, Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. The lightweight iPad contains an M1 Chipset, providing the fastest processor and speed, and efficiency of a laptop. With 10 hours of battery life, the iPad will last for over a day’s worth of classes.
With one touch, students will have access to a collection of resources including the College’s learning management system ExO, student forms, wellbeing tools, their timetable and academic calendar.
Students can complete their coursework wherever they are and efficiently take notes in lectures and tutorials using the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil.
Excelsia College is proud to be an innovative college and will celebrate its 40th Anniversary as a higher education provider in 2023. In the recent QILT survey (Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching) results, Excelsia registered scores higher than the national average in five out of six metrics of student experience for undergraduate and postgraduate courses. In terms of teaching practice, 89% of all students had an overall positive experience at Excelsia. This further highlights Excelsia’s continual striving for improvement and high quality standards.
On 14 June, the New South Wales Government announced an injection of $5.8 billion into the childcare sector over the next 10 years. This boost comes as a response to the statewide shortage of early childhood educators, as well as to build a sustainable pipeline of early childhood educators and teachers for tomorrow (New South Wales Liberal, 2022).
The importance of early childhood education has been found to not only help develop strong educational foundations in children, but also identify any health and development issues that might make learning difficult for students when they begin school (Baker, 2022). This play-based learning can have a positive correlation on vocabulary development, reasoning, and early numeracy skills development (Raper, 2022).
Currently 339,015 children aged four to five are enrolled in a preschool program, an increase of 1.3 percent on last year’s figures, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (2022). The majority of children aged four to five only attend preschool two days a week (Australia Bureau of Statistics, 2022) but from 2030, they will be able to access five days of childcare free of charge. Under this universal system of pre-kindergarten, children will be able to experience a full year of play-based learning before their first year of school (Raper, 2022). Additionally, more childcare centres will be built in ‘childcare deserts’ across suburban, regional and rural New South Wales where demand outweighs supply. Approximately nine million Australians or 35 per cent of the population live in neighborhoods that are classified as a childcare desert (Mitchell Institute, 2022).
The state government is also rolling out the ‘Perrottet package’, led by New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, which will give Australian domestic students and permanent residents early childhood teacher higher education scholarships of up to $25,000 towards their degrees (New South Wales Liberal, 2022). This will form part of the 2022/2023 NSW Budget that is setting aside a $281.6 million workforce package (New South Wales Liberal, 2022). So why would students want to study their Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Birth to 5) at Excelsia College? While experiencing intimate class sizes, and learning from passionate teachers with years of experience both in the classroom and designing pedagogy, our students get hands-on training and can form industry connections before they’ve competed their studies. Over their four years of study, Excelsia College students will undertake over 80 days of practicum experience and be confident to step foot in the classroom as a well-qualified early childhood teacher upon graduating.
So if you want to enter an industry that is continuing to grow in demand, why not consider Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Birth to 5)? You will join at a time that the New South Wales Government supports the early childhood education and care workforce, as well as help future News South Wales children, families and the economy.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2022). Preschool Education, Australia. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/education/preschool-education-australia/latest-release
Baker, J. (2022, June 16). ‘A game-changer’: NSW to introduce an extra year of education. Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/a-game-changer-nsw-to-introduce-an-extra-year-of-education-20220615-p5au02.html
Mitchell Institute. (2022). Childcare Deserts & Oases: How accessible is childcare in Australia? https://www.vu.edu.au/mitchell-institute/early-learning/childcare-deserts-oases-how-accessible-is-childcare-in-australia
New South Wales Liberal. (2022). Supercharging the early childhood workforce and sector. https://nswliberal.org.au/Shared-Content/News/2022/Supercharging-the-early-childhood-workforce-and-sector
Raper, A. (2022, June 16). NSW and Victorian governments plan new free year of preschool schooling within a decade. ABC News. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-16/nsw-victoria-plan-for-new-preschool-year-education/101155350?fbclid=IwAR3ND1tp_zPXJrvJ5vHFs_DGVXEAyqxu1z0ERWqEVELAEL-HKld62QCQ5Ss