Caroline Torode could be the embodiment of the statement "Do a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life".

Having completed a Master of War Studies, Caroline is one of hundreds of UNSW Canberra students graduating this month.

Before undertaking her Master’s degree at UNSW Canberra, Caroline's interest in war history had already played a huge part in her life.

Having worked for 23 years as a secondary school history teacher in Victoria – a job she continues to do and loves – she has also studied education and history at three other universities. In addition to the Master of War Studies that she'll soon receive, Caroline also has a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary), a Master of Education (Curriculum and Administration Studies) and a Graduate Certificate in World Historical Studies. 

Caroline's job as a teacher and her formal studies in war history have allowed her to combine two of her greatest passions - sharing with future generations the rich history of war and how we have commemorated those who gave their lives during times of conflict.

"Not only will I continue teaching but I now also hope to engage others in public history. I would like to contribute to ensuring history, as a discipline, is available to all," Caroline said.

Caroline's fascination with war history, and war memorials in particular, began in her childhood as she saw the many different types of war memorials that featured in the country towns she visited during family day trips across Victoria. A holiday to Europe in 2012, where Caroline visited the Australian operational and commemorative areas along the Western Front, consolidated her interest and passion for Australian military social history.

During a COVID lockdown in 2021, Caroline turned her passion for war history into a project. She created an Instagram account (@torodeys_war_memorials) to showcase her photographs of war memorials from her travels, along with accompanying vignettes.

"After realising I had so many photos of war memorials from the towns I had visited before Melbourne’s multiple lockdowns, I thought it would be a great idea to share my photos and write a vignette for each memorial for an Instagram account," Caroline said.

Organisations such as the Shrine of Remembrance (Melbourne), the Anzac Memorial (Sydney), RSL NSW, Legacy Australia, the Western Front Association, and the Fromelles Museum follow Caroline’s Instagram account, demonstrating the high regard in which she is held.

Having completed her Master’s, Caroline has seen several opportunities open up, including completing a podcast interview about her thesis, ‘Victorian Government Teachers and their AIF Officer Selection and Promotions during the Great War’ with the Western Front Association in the United Kingdom and voluntary consultative work as a historian. 

"In the coming months, I am looking forward to abridging and editing my thesis for publication in an academic journal," Caroline said.

"I also hope that in the coming years I can return to UNSW Canberra and begin working on a PhD."

Caroline said there were a number of things that attracted her to UNSW Canberra’s Master of War Studies degree. 

"The online and flexible delivery of the degree; the specialisation of the UNSW Humanities and Social Sciences academic staff in military history; the course breadth and depth that both suited my employment as a history teacher and matched my personal interests; and the size of UNSW Canberra’s campus meant smaller class sizes, greater one-on-one assistance, and specific, targeted feedback from my lecturers. All these factors combined made the experience memorable," Caroline said.

"The smaller size of the UNSW Canberra campus also helped for when I chose to be onsite. I met, got to know, and got involved with people and activities on campus.

"UNSW Canberra, both online and onsite, made me feel connected and part of a community."

Caroline's advice for those considering a postgraduate degree at UNSW Canberra is simple.

"Go and do it - you’ll never look back," Caroline said.

"My practical advice is to ensure your employer knows of your plans to study and is supportive, especially if you need time from work to research and write.

"Also, get to know the people within your faculty and on campus. Let them know when something in your life happens that might have an impact upon your studies. The staff at UNSW Canberra are there to support you. 

"This was not the first time where I have worked full-time and completed a distance postgraduate qualification, but it was the first time I experienced social isolation and the constant pivot to the remote teaching of my own classes due to Melbourne’s multiple lockdowns.

"What will stick with me is the support of my UNSW Canberra lecturers and classmates during those difficult times."