La Trobe 50: Share Your Story – Timothy Thomaidis

Bachelor of Health Sciences majoring in Public Health & Bachelor of International Development

I identify as a cis gender homosexual male. I came out when I came to university actually. I was away from home. I grew up in a part of victoria that’s quite conservative. I didn’t really feel I’d be supported back when I was home. I came out to them after I left and they were very supportive.

You study and work at the university. What do you do there?
I work in the Alumni advancement office as an administration officer in projects.

You’re in the last year of your course, what’s the plan after this?
Yes, I’m in my fourth and final year. I feel like there are quite a few possibilities for me. Graduate development program with the department of Health, work in the sector in Melbourne, do my postgraduate straight away, that’s a masters of public health. So many possibilities.

Take us back to High school, what bought you to this degree?
I was very heavily involved in social justice. I went to East Timor, which opened my eyes to the international world. I also loved health. So firstly I wanted to do International Development then I came across this double degree. I only put the one preference because that’s all I wanted.

Where did you go to high school?
Padua College on the Peninsula, I’ve since moved to the north. I lived on college in my first year.

What’s the best thing about La Trobe University?
I think La Trobe is this social community. No matter your past, where you’re from you’ll feel welcomed and appreciated. It’s a great place to live, learn and laugh.

What does the university have to improve itself and appeal to more students?
Well I’m both a student and a member of staff, so I definitely see it from both sides. I think there’s a bit of a disconnect between staff and students. La Trobe was very well known for offering niche degrees. I was in the last cohort of the International Development degree. There wasn’t much communication as to how we move forward or what was happening. It was not done very well. As the university is restructuring, which is completely fair, it hasn’t been effective in communicating its changes to the university. In the process of restructuring its lost all those niche degrees it had.

What’s your university experience been like? You’ve travelled a lot with the university.
France, Japan, most recently to the Philippines. It’s a great environment. I love the community atmosphere the university provides. I was the president of Oxfam for about three years, took it up during my first year. throughout the year – It involves research, marketing, and events, approaching people in the Agora. I’ve also worked on the Fair Trade committee at university, so I have had a hand in working out how fair trade is implemented at the university. In terms of social justice I’ve done quite a bit over time. I did an internship in Japan and the university managed to sponsor me. I was the social enterprise co-ordinator for the YMCA.

Does your sexuality dominate your activity?
I wouldn’t say my sexuality dominates my activities. I’m just passionate to learn and passionate about public health. I want to be a HIV specialist, to be an epidemiologist (study of research). So I want to expose myself to a lot of this. I know that HIV primarily affects the gay community so I want to do all I can to better this.

Do you consider yourself lucky? Not everyone has a fairly easy transition.
It wasn’t as easy as 1 2 3, it had its trials and ups and downs. I’m lucky though to be from Melbourne. The political climate and atmosphere is not as tough as other parts of Australia and the world. I’ve never been abused or faced some backlash. I’ve been accepted. It’s a mental journey though. I’m an only child and upon telling my parents I feared they’d never accept me. This is what every gay kid goes through.

You could say the grass is greener on the other side?
I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s about the grass being greener on the other side. I think there’s some level of happiness in accepting who you are. Also, know there are a lot of problems in the gay community so its not like everything is perfect once you chose to live as you see yourself.

What’s your five-year plan for you?
Well, plan A is to get into the department of health graduate program and move to Canberra. Maybe get a job in the department, do that part time and do my Masters part time. I’ll hopefully be ready for an International posting. It’s funny because people say I’m doing all this stuff and I don’t have a partner. As I’m getting older I also think I’d like to have someone next to me. However there’s a reason for that. Its stems from the fact that, the gay community doesn’t do enough for its own people. We aren’t there for each other and we don’t come together as a community. Plus also I don’t have a lot of time. I believe I have control in my life but I also believe life is full of lessons. I’m not out there desperately trying to find someone.

What’s your take on Trump, Donald Trump?
All I can say is the politics of division and fear is not good. America has made great strides in the past few years to becoming more progresses, and this take it back to a very conservative era.

What’s your advice to other students who want to be more out there or more successful?
Think global, act local! Its not more about one person changing the world, but if everyone changes their perception we really have the ability to change the world and be successful.

By Kevin Kapeke interviewing Timothy Thomaidis

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