As a high school student, Peter Gleeson didn’t think UNSW was an option for him. But UNSW’s Gateway program broadened his horizons, and not only allowed him to study at Australia’s #1 Business School, but Peter is now helping to build a more diverse student cohort for the future.
When Peter was in year 12, his careers advisor at Elizabeth Macarthur High School in Sydney’s south-west told him about UNSW’s Gateway Program. He was enjoying studying economics, society and culture, and technology subjects but didn’t know if that could translate into a career.
So, Peter decided to attend the 2020 UNSW Winter Gateway Program to find out if it would help with his plans for after the HSC. Instead, what he learned changed his future career path for the better.
“I found out about UNSW Business School, double degrees and what was on offer at the university. I learned I could combine my love for tech and my love for economics into one, which made me realise... I can do this,” Peter says.
Currently studying a Bachelor of Computer Science and Economics at UNSW Business School, Peter has spent the last three years laying the foundations for his future, and he acknowledges UNSW’s Gateway Program and Admission Pathway for opening this door of opportunity.
“As a top-class university located in the city of Sydney, it wasn’t really on my radar being from Campbelltown. But meeting the ambassadors from Revesby and Macquarie Fields opened my eyes. And now I’m here studying and in my final year, so it's been quite a journey.”
The UNSW Gateway Program prepares students for university through specially designed programs, delivered on-campus and online, and enables them to explore different degree options, future career opportunities, and provides access to additional resources for the HSC.
While the UNSW Gateway Admission Pathway offers eligible students an alternative pathway to UNSW with early admission offers, and maximises ATAR requirements for partnering faculties, including UNSW Business School. Peter received an early conditional offer before completing his final exams, which he said took a lot of the pressure off.
“When I got that early offer, I was so happy, and it motivated me to just keep moving. This first step was done, but I was just going to keep preparing myself for what was next. I felt like going to UNSW would help to unlock a whole new world of potential for my life,” he says.
Now in the fourth year of his double degree, Peter says studying at UNSW Business School has already opened so many doors, including expanding his network to such a diverse cohort. It’s also given him the space and skills to find himself and be intentional with where he wants to go next.
“At this point in my degree I’m working on deciding where I'd like to go and what speaks to me more. There’s a lot of potential, lots of graduate programs, but what I want to do is figure out how I want to use what I’m learning to help people and the world.”
“It’s not just going for the first opportunity; it’s considering the opportunities that align with my goals and my values. My degree could take me anywhere, from start-ups to government, but I’m looking at what would fulfil me the most and give me the best possible chance to help people.”
Along with his work as a Start@UNSW Mentor, Peter’s fulfilling some of that desire to give back as an ambassador to the UNSW Gateway program. He is working with high school students from year 9 onwards, helping them uncover their future path, and where it could take them.
This starts by working with students to identify their personal values and skills, and as they make their way toward year 12, uncovering if there is a UNSW degree and career path that aligns with their passions.
“Forming your own identity during high school can be difficult, let alone picking a degree. And the more I've been involved the more I've seen that Gateway is not just a program to make university easier to get into. The best part is the opportunity to discover the hidden value you may have not seen in yourself,” Peter explains.
“And that's part of the transition of making sure students find a place to call home at UNSW. A place where they feel valued no matter where they come from. That's what this program does – it helps you value yourself in a way that you didn't expect.”
Peter has travelled to Gateway partner schools across Greater Sydney, to suburbs including Colo in the North West and Campbelltown in the South West. He loves the opportunity to bring the program to a demographic of students who might not be looking at UNSW as an option for further study or considering university at all.
By helping other high school students realise they can do more than they thought possible, Peter sees the immense potential in diversifying the UNSW Business School cohort, and the future impact that could have.
“We need people in business that believe in making change and impact. But some of these students may have never seen themselves as having the opportunity to work in fields like commerce, management, or any other spheres of business,” Peter says.
“But they need to be there. They've got the potential, and now they’ve got the opportunity to study at UNSW where they will be the ones making an impact, as professionals.”
As we see more diverse students graduate from UNSW and start to occupy roles in organisations across the country, Peter predicts we’ll also see some exciting changes in the Australian business landscape. All thanks to the presence of more underrepresented voices and the unique ideas they bring to the table at all levels.
With a clear Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) vision, UNSW Business School strives to ensure that every student is empowered to have equal access to education. The Gateway program is just one way we’re working to build a more equitable cohort, which will only enhance our position as a globally engaged, high-impact, and academically rigorous business school.
Learn more about UNSW Gateway Program, here.