Sasha Giroux, a recent graduate of Excelsia College, has carved out a unique and promising path in the world of screen production. Sasha completed her Bachelor of Screen Production in December 2023, and she officially graduated in May 2024. Her journey, characterised by a blend of academic discipline, practical experience, and collaborative spirit, exemplifies the transformative power of dedicated education and hands-on learning.

Sasha’s educational journey began with a Diploma of Screen and Media at Sydney Film School (SFS), directly after high school. While this provided a solid foundation, she felt the need for further academic and practical refinement before embarking on her career. The recommendation of Excelsia College, with its strong partnership with SFS, presented the perfect opportunity. The ability to transfer credits and complete her bachelor’s degree in just a year and a half, while staying connected with familiar teachers, made the decision easier.


The program’s mix of theoretical knowledge and practical application, coupled with the opportunity for an exchange in Los Angeles, offered an ideal environment for her growth.

Despite the film students’ split time between Excelsia and Sydney Film School, Sasha felt a strong sense of belonging at Excelsia. The interdisciplinary collaboration among drama, music, and film students enriched her educational experience. Expressing an interest in theatre, she shadowed the stage manager for a drama production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, an experience that expanded her understanding and appreciation of live performance.

 

Excelsia’s curriculum, combining theoretical study with practical filmmaking, equipped Sasha with a comprehensive skill set. She directed three short films and worked on numerous others, gaining experience in various roles. This hands-on practice, alongside academic learning, prepared her for the professional world. ‘I feel ready to crew on professional productions and to work my way up,’ Sasha expressed. She also feels confident in her ability to create her own projects, bolstered by the knowledge and skills acquired during her studies.

Throughout her time at Excelsia and SFS, Sasha honed crucial soft skills. Teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving became second nature through the collaborative nature of filmmaking. ‘Filmmaking is all about working with other people, adapting to different work ethics, and collaboration to create the best possible outcome,’ she notes. Managing stress and maintaining a positive, professional set environment are skills she developed extensively as a director and first assistant director.

Post-graduation, Sasha took a summer break to recharge before diving back into the film industry. She is currently producing an independent short film and working on her own projects as a writer, director, and producer. Her recent role as assistant stage manager for a KXT play and participation in several independent projects in Sydney highlight her active engagement in the industry.

To explore the opportunities for your own journey in screen production at Excelsia, visit our website here and learn more about our Bachelor of Screen Production program.

Quote: ‘Through Excelsia and Sydney Film School, I really learned how to work in teams, on set and in the pre and post production process.’

With a bachelor’s degree in science majoring in psychology already under his belt, Andy Chin found counselling to be the perfect fit for integrating Christian ministry. ‘Being a member of Wesley International Congregation, I knew of the then Wesley Institute (now Excelsia College) and its solid reputation, and I knew others who had studied there, so it made my decision easy. After I spent a season of seeking God in prayer, it was the right next step,’ explains Andy. In 1999, he took the plunge and enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Counselling.

 

For many students it’s the little memories which stand out when they reflect on their time at a tertiary institution, and for Andy it’s no different. ‘I remember the little canteen run by a lovely Korean couple. I enjoyed the chapel services. We had an awesome cohort in the counselling class which was stimulating. Our lecturers were relatable and predominantly engaging and insightful. It was also fun to engage occasionally with students and lecturers from other departments. I would describe the College as inspiring, creative and authentic.’

 

Andy also found that Excelsia provided him with solid foundations for incorporating Christian counselling in ministry. ‘I loved being able to understand how to interweave my university psychology studies with a grounded faith in Christ. The foundational theology component was helpful, insightful and encouraging.’ For Andy, his defining moment came in his Integrative Studies classes which sought to make sense of psychology and Christian faith. After graduating from Excelsia in 2001 and with solid foundations laid, Andy practised counselling within a pastoral context. It was a year after graduating that Andy’s call to ministry became loud and clear and he went on to pursue further theological studies.

 

Today, Andy works as the Senior Pastor of Wesley International Congregation, Wesley Mission. The organisation holds a special place in Andy’s walk as he came to faith in this congregation and continued his journey, joining the staff team in 2001 as an intern and then as a pastor in 2004. Excelsia is pleased to continue this connection with Wesley International Congregation and since May 2022 the church has been using the College’s auditorium for worship services. Andy is also involved with various interdenominational ministries with a hope and desire to see collaborative gospel work locally and globally.

 

When Andy found out that Excelsia is celebrating its 40th anniversary, he was very excited to see that the College has continued to grow from strength to strength. ‘I pray the Spirit of God may continue to pour out significant favour on this college and that it will continue to be a source of life and learning for generations to come for the gospel of Jesus! I look back fondly at these times and rejoice with you all!’

 

If you are interested in going into pastoral care or ministry and want to gain the helpful foundations about how to relate to others, why not consider Excelsia College’s counselling courses? The Graduate Diploma of Counselling helps to provide a foretaste and if you decide this is something you want to pursue in a professional capacity, you can continue by studying the Master of Counselling.

Excelsia College | Andy Chin – Counselling and ministry really do go hand in hand

After discovering Excelsia College through homeschooling connections and attending an open day in 2015, Mikaela Wu decided to enrol in a Bachelor of Music. It also helped that theology was embedded in the music course as she was wanting to increase both her musical and biblical knowledge.

 

Fast forward nearly seven years and Mikaela graduated from Excelsia with undergraduate and postgraduate studies in music. After finishing her Bachelor of Music in flute in 2018 and working for a year and a half, she was encouraged by staff at Excelsia to do a master’s. ‘I’d had enough of spending time on one instrument (classical flute) and practising on my own. When I found out I could do my Master of Music, majoring in conducting, and hang out with people all the time, I decided to start my studies,’ says Mikaela.

 

The budding conductor enjoyed getting to know her lecturers on a more personal level due to the smaller class sizes. This in turn allowed her to be involved in musical events outside the College. ‘I played in many different ensembles with a variety of instruments including Strathfield Symphony Orchestra under the instruction of Dr Sada Muramatsu.’

 

Whilst Mikaela focused on classical flute in the Bachelor of Music course, she learned far more than just the skills for a career playing that instrument. ‘I learned music production and live audio skills, how to conduct and how to compose in other styles. I also stage managed and crewed for shows and even acted in a musical!’ Despite some of the difficulties learning these skills at the time, Mikaela is thankful that she persevered and for the opportunities and connections she made at Excelsia. ‘I’m currently writing a musical with a friend from the drama department at Excelsia and conducting and managing various choral and orchestra concerts. I am glad that I didn’t get stuck with a niche skill set, where I could only perform flute. In terms of extending my biblical knowledge, the classes at Excelsia led me to take some subjects at Bible college to continue that learning journey.’

 

A key highlight for Mikaela was her time in choir. ‘As an instrumentalist, it was great to have a chance to regularly work on singing and in a class with all the year groups together. It also definitely made a difference to my aural skills in terms of harmony,’ she explains. The musician is also thankful for the space offered to be creative and the collaborative time spent working on music showcases with other students. ‘There was a variety of ideas and we enjoyed making music together and trying different styles.’ Mikaela appreciated the adaptability of the showcases which continually morphed to suit the current cohort of students. ‘This flexibility allows students to better display their skill sets’.

 

Since finishing her Master of Music, Mikaela works with Wollongong Conservatorium Community Orchestra and Bankstown City Choir. Within these groups, Mikaela has enjoyed helping members to improve their musical skills, gain confidence, and put on concerts. On top of this, she teaches choir at a homeschool creative arts group and tutors students privately at home and in schools. She has also started playing violin and practises and performs with Excelsia Chamber Orchestra on Thursday nights! Mikaela is thankful to Excelsia for helping to improve her musicianship. ‘On top of improving my conducting, I learned more about music pedagogy throughout my master’s course which has affected the way I teach both ensembles and private lessons,’ she explains.

 

If you want to explore a variety of instruments, have the opportunity to join different musical groups and orchestras and gain a variety of skills to set you up for a career in music, why not explore Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Music or Master of Music?

Excelsia College | Mikaela Wu - How studies stretched this budding conductor’s wings

Amy Lawler had an excellent experience studying at Excelsia College, undergoing a Creative and Performing Arts degree. What appealed to Amy most was the flexibility offered by the degree, allowing her to tailor her academic path according to her evolving creative interests. Initially drawn to performance, Amy discovered a newfound passion for directing, writing, and stage management, broadening her horizons within the arts.

Transitioning from academia to the professional realm, Amy found support in Excelsia’s TP and Grad-Show initiatives, providing practical experience crucial for her integration into the creative and performing arts industry. The hands-on nature of practical classes further empowered her, fostering an environment where creativity thrived and practical skills flourished. ‘Being able to create my own work any way that I wanted was so encouraging, and I know that most people in my surrounding cohorts felt the same regarding their shows. Learning how to stage manage and produce have been the most valuable tools as it showed me how to be practical within the industry,’ Amy stated. Her adeptness in various facets of the industry, from technical to creative roles, underscored the effectiveness of her academic foundation as a springboard for her career.

Amy’s skillset was significantly enriched by Excelsia’s intimate learning environments provided through small group settings and personalised mentorship sessions. Recognising the significance of such interactions, Amy valued Excelsia’s close-knit learning communities, which facilitated individualised attention from lecturers and fostered meaningful connections with her classmates. Amy’s ability to diversify her skill set played a pivotal role in her professional advancement, empowering her to tackle the industry’s challenges with adaptability and versatility.

For Amy, true knowledge is gained through hands-on experience in professional settings. She urges others to leverage their education to build confidence and competence, emphasising Excelsia’s role in instilling her self-sufficiency and initiative. ‘I learned that if you want something, go and make it yourself! That’s where I’ve been most successful in all my endeavours, both while studying and in the industry now.’ This mindset has been instrumental in her academic and professional efforts, reinforcing her belief in seizing opportunities and forging one’s own path to success.

Having now worked across the entertainment industry as a director, stage manager, producer, and more, Amy is an accomplished theatre and film practitioner. Her most notable directorial credits include Vickie & Vinnie, Proof, Single Ladies, and the animated exhibition Hunter’s Mark along with the original production of Periergeia. As a stage manager, her highlights include Urinetown, Peer Gynt, Labyrinth, and the children’s musical Seasonal Warriors: Be Seedsational. Amy’s latest endeavour involved directing Periergeia, a heartfelt story showcased at Excelsia College just last month.

If you’re curious about exploring a career in the creative and performing arts industry and want to learn from industry professionals, find out more about our courses here.

 

 

From Academia to Artistry: Amy's Excelsia Journey | Excelsia College

After having been a partner in a chartered accounting firm for around 10 years, Andrew Blackwell made the decision to retrain as a teacher in 2009. As he was working full-time, Andrew needed to find an institution which would enable him to complete his Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) part-time, completely online, and have faith integrated into the course. ‘I loved the fact that the College was a Christian educational institution, which was ideal given that I was being trained to be a Christian teacher,’ he explains.

 

Andrew found that studying the Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) provided him with a solid foundation in teaching fundamentals, as well as a unique Christian perspective that wouldn’t have been available in a secular institution. After finishing his studies in 2013, the former accountant was well prepared to teach in a Christian setting and took up the role of Year 7 Home Room teacher at Pacific Hills Christian School. Although Andrew’s accounting background and his studies qualified him to teach Business Studies and Commerce, he was surprised to find himself also teaching a lot of Geography.  ‘It was at Pacific Hills that the Christian focus of the course really helped me. I went from the accounting world where being overtly Christian was challenging, to being put in front of a class of students 12–13 years old, where sharing my Christian faith was both encouraged and expected. I was able to apply what I had learned through my studies and to incorporate my Christian faith in the way I prepared lessons and taught students. I discovered how much I loved seeing people develop and grow in their faith,’ he explains.

 

The path God leads people down can often involve His preparation for something else, and   Andrew’s two years of teaching experience in a Christian school proved to be brilliant missionary training. ‘I was only at Pacific Hills for a short time before my wife and I realised that God had something else planned for us. By mid-2015 we had moved to Bulgaria as missionaries with European Christian Mission, together with our four children.’ Over the past eight years, the couple have worked in an anti-human trafficking ministry, taught in a small missionary school, and walked alongside a Bulgarian couple in a whole-life, discipleship-based community development ministry, seeking transformation of Roma communities. Andrew and his wife are now helping to lead an international church and are involved in leadership and leader development in their mission organisation, European Christian Mission.

 

‘God has continually equipped us for the work He has called us to, from formal training (like the Graduate Diploma of Education), to negative training (having us sit under poor leadership), which gave us passion for helping to equip leaders to thrive in their leadership. There is no doubt that God used the College as a key part of equipping me for what He had planned for me,’ reflects Andrew.

 

It has now been almost 10 years since Andrew completed his studies and he is happy to have been part of the College’s history as it celebrates 40 years this year. ‘At the time, the College was well ahead of many other tertiary institutions, especially in relation to online learning. It would have taken COVID-19 in its stride, even back then. As it celebrates its 40th birthday, I am looking forward to hearing about other ways that Excelsia has developed over this time,’ he says.

 

If you’re considering a career change like Andrew or want to study teaching through a Christian lens, why not look at Excelsia College’s postgraduate education options?

 

https://excelsia.edu.au/study/education/

Excelsia college News | From accountant to educator and missionary

Pursuing a Master of Counselling, Sasha Miloslavskaya was led by more than just academic excellence – it was the quest for an inclusive and warm community that drove her. In her endeavour to juggle full-time work commitments with study, Sasha found the perfect fit at Excelsia College. The appeal was found in weekend classes and face-to-face learning within a relational and human-centered course, marking the commencement of her academic journey.

 

‘Being at Excelsia felt like home. I really enjoyed being both a student and a staff member. Excelsia has a wonderful atmosphere; one always feels supported, heard, and loved. The spirit of Excelsia is that of generosity, kindness, inclusiveness, and possibility. I have made friends for life and met many like-minded people, amongst both students and staff. I miss Excelsia dearly and look forward to the opportunity to give back in any way I can, when I can.’

 

When describing Excelsia, Sasha uses the words ‘future, love, and friendship’, emphasising the unique qualities of Excelsia College, including smaller class sizes and the different journeys each student undertakes. Studying counselling encourages individuals to assess not only others but also themselves, fostering vulnerability – a lesson Sasha holds tightly. ‘The most important thing I have learned was that it’s okay to ask for help. I have also learned that it is important to have the right support – people you can depend on in your life. And last, but not least, I learned the value of friendship and treating people with kindness.’

 

Since graduating, Sasha has established a private practice and founded HERE4U Counselling & Psychotherapy, dedicated to helping those in need of guidance and support, particularly from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. Identifying as a CALD therapist, Sasha purposefully offers a sliding scale to assist those less fortunate and takes pro-bono cases when appropriate.

 

It is evident that Sasha has a genuine passion for meaningful work. ‘I would love to find a rewarding job where people are what matters, and a person-centered approach leads the way. My dream is to have a rewarding job helping children and young people learn about who they are and how they can feel safe and regulated in everyday life,’ she explains.

 

Reflecting on her time at Excelsia, Sasha finds it challenging to pinpoint one defining moment, given her roles as a student, employee, and counselling intern. ‘My experience at Excelsia was so important, so valuable, and so fulfilling. I have belonged to the Excelsia family in different capacities, and within all these roles, I have always felt loved and supported. I feel like I want to give a special mention to the student lounge area – for such a small college, Excelsia went out of its way to make students feel relaxed, at ease, and able to balance work and play.’

 

Excelsia thrives on making sure our students feel at home and supported, so why not explore our Graduate Diploma of Counselling and Master of Counselling and start your journey today? *hyperlink the courses*

 

Caption: Excelsia’s spirit, rooted in generosity, kindness, inclusiveness, and boundless possibilities, became the drive for Sasha’s pursuit of a Master of Counselling. Now, as a dedicated therapist and founder of HERE4U Counselling & Psychotherapy, Sasha extends her passion for meaningful work, focusing on aiding culturally diverse communities. Her commitment to offering a helping hand is a testament to her time at Excelsia.

Excelsia college News | Sasha Miloslavskaya’s Inspiring Journey at Excelsia College

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.’  

Excelsia College News | From Theology to Theatre Luke Edward Smith's Transformative Journey at Excelsia College

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/ 

Excelsia College News | Erica Brooks - A winning combination of faith and creativity

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.

Excelsia College News | George Zhao – Acting his way to the top

Hailey McQueen (nee Barrett) studied her Bachelor of Creative Arts (Theatre Performance) from 2000 to 2002 and graduated in 2003 as valedictorian. Twenty years on and she is still firmly connected with Excelsia College!

 

Hailey knew she wanted to study acting after finishing school but to pursue her dreams she had to make the move from her hometown on the South Coast of New South Wales. ‘When a family friend recommended the College and after I attended an open day, I knew it was the place for me. I was drawn to the Christian environment, the caring and close-knit community, and the practical and comprehensive outline of the theatre performance course, says Hailey. Hailey describes the experience as ‘nothing short of life changing’ and became inspired by her lecturers who genuinely cared for and championed their students. ‘They created a safe environment for learning and personal development with lashings of grace that made me feel safe and valued. Their masterful example of driven, focused, and dedicated creative process helped me grow and introduced me to new ways of seeing the world. They continue to inspire me as an artist to approach my practice with excellence and empathy,’ explains Hailey.

 

Finding friendships when you’ve left your family and friends behind are essential and Hailey found deep and defining relationships. ‘Spending three years in close community with people who share a deep affinity with each other is rare and precious. I am so grateful for my classmates and the time we spent creating, laughing, and growing together – they have become family.’ Some of Hailey’s key highlights include naps and chats in the sun on the ‘grassy knoll’ at the College’s Drummoyne campus.

 

During her time as a student, Hailey was gifted with opportunities to build skills in leadership and creative collaboration. ‘I was encouraged in my spiritual formation and inspired to explore my own unique creative practice in a safe environment. It has allowed me to become a “maker”, to solve problems, make headway on personally meaningful goals, and complete challenging projects with humility and empathy.’ Since graduating, Hailey has worked in a number of roles, from acting across the stage and screen to working as a producer and director for independent shows across Sydney. She is also co-founder and artistic director of Clock and Spiel Productions. For Hailey, however, one of her greatest roles has been lecturing in the drama department at Excelsia for the past 15 years. ‘It’s a privilege to work alongside the students, advocating for them as unique artists and encouraging them in their creative endeavours.

 

When reflecting on the College turning 40, Hailey’s attention turns to those that have gone before and paved the way for this landmark occasion to be reached, including David Johnston, whose vision for a creative arts college set it all in motion. ‘Their creativity, tenacity and sacrifice in building such a vision, through the highs and lows, is to be honoured and celebrated. We would not have such a life-defining education and community without them. They built a strong community, a family of people who are still cheering each other on today.’

 

If you want to find out more about our creative and performing arts courses, please visit our website, https://excelsia.edu.au/study/creative-and-performing-arts/

Excelsia College News | Hailey McQueen (nee Barrett) – From student to teacher