When I graduated high school and entered early adulthood, I was excited to start a brand-new chapter and broaden my horizons. It's a large part of the reason I chose to move to Canberra and study at The Australian National University (ANU).
I wanted to be a part of the university lifestyle, to grow and to make new friends. I was fortunate enough to live on campus and really got involved with the community at ANU. I was most heavily involved in the Circle for Gender Equity, which opened a wide range of opportunities and allowed me to connect with a number of highly intelligent and interesting people.
Once I graduated university there was this hole in my life. Although I was looking forward to starting my career, I missed the platforms I previously had access to at ANU that allowed me to advocate for and pursue my passion projects within the community. Those societies and associations I loved so much were no longer as accessible to me.
I was in contact (and still am) with my dear friend Monica Dalton, who I had met through the Circle for Gender Equity, and we decided to create the ANU Women's Alumni Network (WAN) along with another fantastic alumna, Masaba Gofran. WAN allowed me to pursue my passion for gender equality, outside of my day job. It also helped me connect with other alumnae and people I didn't get the opportunity to meet while at university.
This is how I met Alicia Louise Lillington, and now we're co-chairs of WAN. Alicia and I had different university experiences. Coming from interstate not knowing anyone, I embraced campus life as much as possible. Alicia is a Canberra local, so she fortunately already had her friends and family nearby. But that's the great thing about alumni networks - they tend to bring people together through their interest and passion, over anything else.
It was during the 2019 Alumni Week that Alicia and I connected for the first time - which coincidentally was also when we first launched WAN. It was a while before she joined us as a committee member, but once she did, we really hit it off and achieved many milestones together. Our skills really complemented each other; I'm very pragmatic and detail-oriented in my thinking, whereas Alicia is incredibly creative and has all the big ideas. I think that's why we work well together because you can't have one without the other.
The support and friendship we get from each other is special. It certainly would have been very hard to run WAN on my own, especially as we navigated through the years of uncertainty owing to the pandemic.
Being able to share wins, and have each other's backs when things get tough, has made working together such a wonderful experience. For example, at the University's 75th anniversary closing ceremony recently, I was so excited for Alicia who was able to meet the University's Chancellor, the Hon Julie Bishop - someone who she has been a fan of for a long time. Alicia has been determined to share our work at WAN with her since we first became co-leads. It was a dream come true for Alicia, and it was a pleasure to share that joy.
I'm so grateful to the WAN committee for keeping our passions alight, and especially to Alicia. We are yin and yang - good ideas without well-thought-out execution can fall flat and vice versa, but Alicia's illustrious innovation combined with my logic and execution strikes the perfect balance.
Josephine and Alicia are current co-chairs of the ANU Women's Alumni Network (WAN) steering committee. Find out more about WAN and how to get involved by clicking here.