UQ: Not just a beautiful campus

I recently wrote a post for the University of Queensland’s Small Change blog:

There are many of things to consider when choosing a university. PhD student Natasha Taylor writes how UQ’s people and its embracing approach to diversity, rather than a sunny climate and sprawling green campus,  lured her to St Lucia and supported her once she arrived.

In 2012 I was finishing my honours degree at the Australian National University (ANU), when I received an e-mail inviting honours students around Australia to come to The University of Queensland. Being from the southern states – born in Sydney, schooled in Melbourne, studied in Canberra – I had a rather dim view of Queensland: to me it was racist, sexist, homophobic, and all manner of other descriptions that could be summarised in the word ‘backwards’. Nevertheless I accepted the offer and, with two close friends in tow, flew up to see UQ.

What I saw here was very different to what I expected: a gorgeous campus of brilliant sandstone, a diversity of staff and students to rival anywhere else I had been, and top-class research. We were made to feel welcome, given several talks and tours, and on the second day we were given appointments to talk to researchers we were interested in. To be honest, I remember very little but a good impression from these meetings, but one gesture stuck in my mind. When I went to see Dr Tamara Davis (at the time I was interested in astrophysics) there was not enough room for myself and a friend who was also interested in her research; without missing a beat, Tamara gave up her seat and sat on the floor. A more welcoming sign I cannot imagine.

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UQ: Not just a beautiful campus