Elise Delpiano always knew she loved foreign cultures, but right up until the end of high school she had no idea what she wanted to be ‘when she grew up’.
She consulted a careers advisor and, for the first time, the idea of studying law arose.
“It was something I had never really considered because I didn’t think I’d get the mark, but when I looked into it more, it seemed really interesting,” she says.
The fact that she could combine studying law with her overseas interests was certainly an added incentive.
“I knew I loved learning languages and I did an exchange to Germany in Year 10, so I decided to pursue international relations. I wanted to learn how the world works, so it seemed like the logical thing to do!”
Elise decided to enrol in a Bachelor of Arts/Laws double degree at UNSW, and she made the move to Sydney from a small town in rural NSW to began her studies.
Despite UNSW being so far from her home and everyone she knew, Elise says that, when deciding where to pursue her law degree, she was attracted by the University’s teaching style.
“I had always wanted to go to university in Sydney, and I knew UNSW was one of the best. When I looked into it more, I was impressed that UNSW Law conducts all classes in seminar format, which I thought would help me learn the difficult course content,” she says.
By no means did Elise spend her entire degree cooped up in a UNSW classroom, however.
During her time at Law School she completed two overseas electives – one in Shanghai and one in Santiago, Chile – as well as a semester exchange to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
She also travelled to Malaysia as part of the UNSW United Nations Society’s delegation to a Model United Nations competition.
Elise says that her overseas adventures were a major highlight of her degree.
Speaking of her time at Georgetown University, she says that having the opportunity to learn directly from the “best of the best” at one of the world’s top schools of international relations and politics was an invaluable experience.
While studying in Washington she was also able to take part in the 2017 Women’s March, an event she feels extremely grateful to have attended.
Not all the highlights of her travels were as historically significant as the Women’s March, however. Elise says that an unexpected perk of attending the Model United Nations competition was falling in love with Malaysian food.
For now, at least, that love affair will have to wait. Elise has been offered a graduate position at a leading independent law firm for next year, and she will be staying in Sydney to start this new chapter of her life and career.
She says that new students shouldn’t be concerned if they have feelings of uncertainty about their future, and should enjoy the social side of university as much as possible in the early years of their degree.
“Don’t worry too much about what you’re going to do when you’re older,” she says.
“Keep your options open and take the opportunities given to you. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something!”