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Jen Leske

Hi, my name’s Jen Leske, I am the Transition Coordinator at Flinders University. I’ve been working here now for two years. How did I get to this position? Basically I grew up in Yorke Peninsula in a small country town called Port Vincent, went to high school at Minlaton High, did the big shift over to Adelaide and started actually studying a degree in Fine Arts.

Then I went on to do a Bachelor of Psychology out at UniSA. I did that for three years and while I was doing that I also did a double major in Gender Studies which is tied in with the School of Communication.

I then went on to do Gender Studies honours at the end of those three years and I guess that’s my connection with the school. I really loved studying at UniSA, in particular the Gender Studies side. I enjoyed the Psychology side too, but this is more about the Gender Studies side. My lecturers at UniSA, Vicki Crowley, Suzanne Franzway, Kylie O’Connell were absolutely fantastic.

The different skills I learnt as well from my time at university at UniSA were things around time management, project management on a small scale but it’s gone on to bigger things. I also learnt how to deal with others, how to work in teams and I even learnt how to write policy, how to write grants, so I learnt a lot about those sorts of things. Research. Research pops up as well for me, particularly doing Gender Studies honours and I think I neglected to mention that I was the first ever full time Gender Studies honours student at UniSA, so that’s a bit of a title for me.
What did I learn from the degree, the Gender Studies degree? Basically I learnt a lot about race, class, what it’s like basically to not fit in the norms of society, which is you know, your heterosexual, white male dominated society. I learnt a lot about advocating for different people and I guess that’s really come through in my work here in terms of advocating for students. I also, I guess, learnt a lot about the theories about what has actually happened and I use that today in my work still. In fact it is probably the degree that has given me the biggest social justice side to where I am today.

When I was at UniSA, I did the Gender Studies and Psychology degrees and then just decided, okay I still haven’t got a qualification, how about I go over to Flinders University where I am, and basically I did a Social Work degree here. Now the combination of all three has made me incredibly employable and I think it is probably the main success as to where I am today.

I have worked in mental health. I worked at a small place called the Mood Disorders Association which was a small non-government agency that assisted people with depression and bipolar. I worked there for two years before becoming the director of that association.

Prior to that I actually worked at Shine SA for a stint as well, so that was in sexual health, which I guess has given me a good background to this current position as Transition coordinator.

I then went on to work at the Department of Education as a student attendance councillor or as most people know, the old truancy officer. My role at DECS was basically to chase up fifteen year old students that weren’t attending school and to try and get them back to school or to a higher learning pathway.

Gender Studies for me, studying that was an excellent informant to all my roles since I’ve left UniSA. The lecturers were fantastic. Vicki and Suzanne and Kylie were so down to earth it was fabulous. It’s nice to have lecturers that you can sit down and feel like you’re an equal and have conversations with and even you know, have a coffee in the Kaf I think it was then.

I learnt so much, not just from my lecturers, but from what they drew out from my fellow students as well. Another good reason to study there is you meet friends that you will have for the rest of your life.

Uni is about resilience, it’s about hanging in there no matter how hard it gets and there will be times when you have, it will feel like a basquillion assignments due in the same week but that actually, you will sort through that and you will realise that there’s only actually four due in the same week and it’s actually manageable.

So, my advice is make the most of opportunities, always use your initiative and just hang in there because it will get better and you will go on to be better and do great things.