Profile Feature Article: Aaron Lovell

He stands up in front of me, displaying the upmost manners. I stand up to greet his warm, welcoming face that arrays a sense of lightness and comfort.
His long, slender face only marked by the birth spot that cheekily lays on the outskirts of his radiating smile. The mood is electrifying. The man I was meant to calm was instilling calm in me.
He sits casually in his normal long jeans and proudly parades the UOW logo on his bright blue shirt, placing a handful on notes onto the table in front of him; “I’m ready when you are”.

Aaron Lovell is a university student. But not average the type of university student you would expect. Instead of spending his extra time playing video games or hanging out with friends at the pub, he is spending his extra time working to make much needed change in the life of others. A lot of his time… In fact, just about all of it.

From a young age he was brought up alongside his local church and supportive parents whom he describes as being his constant role models. Evolving was a passion that now governs his day-to-day life.

This passion is social justice.

Aaron discovered his passion throughout his high schools years. He describes it as a time that was a breaking point for him, entering into a world dedicated to making life less difficult for others.

It wasn’t all easy though; he struggled with some challenges along the way. Describing himself as an introvert at heart, naturally very quiet and conservative but very much a people person, he has some barriers that he had to break down.

With a deep hunger for change, he had one distinct fear. “I wanted to speak out about social justice, I wanted to encourage other people to take action and stand up for what they believe in but I was a really shy public speaker,” Aaron said as he casts his thoughts back. “I hated public speaking. I was so nervous in high school about public speaking.”

But despite his fears, he gained a position volunteering at World Vision, a Christian organisation for humanitarian aid and advocacy. His role was to run the 40hr Famine campaign, an event that raises money and awareness for world hunger, at his high school. This was Aaron’s first big step towards putting his goals into action. “That…” He said as a smile cracked through his lips, “That was when I knew that it was something that I would do when I had finished school.”

From there, he said it was a personal journey where he had to train himself and develop a skill set in order to fulfil the high goals he had set himself and gain new opportunities. He became the School captain of his high school and a youth leader at his local church, ShireLive, where he helps younger students in various aspects of their life; supporting, encouraging, and sharing advice to help them believe in themselves and their abilities.

For Aaron, volunteering is now a big part of his life. He describes it as opportunities and ‘stepping stones’ in his career. The more he engages in this kind of work, the more he wants to become involved.

“I image it as mountains.” He laughs at his metaphor, but nevertheless continues to paint the picture. “Once you have done something, it kind of pushes you forward to find bigger and better opportunities. You’ve climbed one mountain and you look to the next mountain. So I think, I’ve done this volunteering work so now I want to look for paid work there. I was school captain and now I want to look for a bigger leadership role at university. It pushes you to climb a higher mountain.”

In the year after he completed high school, he enrolled to study a Bachelor of International Studies at the University of Wollongong. He says that his choice came out of a real interest to know about the world around him. From the many rewarding and fulfilling opportunities that Aaron has had, he is constantly inspired and motivated him to continue in his path. He notes that, “studying international studies is sort of fundamental for me being able to understand how the world works to then be able to make a difference in the world. I personally need to understand where it is at and how it interacts.” He then goes on to say, “I guess, for the lack of a better saying, I want to leave my mark on the world or I want to do things that benefit not just myself, but other people as well.”

Through this, he has learnt and discovered many ways in which he can help other people achieve justice and also impart this knowledge to the youth of today.

He speaks of an experience that he has kept with him as inspiration.
He explains how he stood proud, up amidst a crowd of intently focussed school kids eager to learn about what it takes to be a leader and a volunteer.
Feelings of warmth and comfort rush through him as he sits up in his chair and thinks back, reliving an experience that has touched him.

During the holidays of the first year of university, Aaron took up an opportunity to travel to East Timor, a country in South-east Asia. While he was there, he had a look at some of the projects that were being run as well as visiting some of the families and communities that live there. He speaks of a six-year-old girl that he met, by the name of Lily. “Her dad had been killed when she was one, her mum had fled and she was as poor as poor could get. She lived with her grandma in a tiny mud brick house way, way away from any type of town or city and they had basically no food.” After speaking to Lily for around half an hour, Aaron got to know a little about her, hearing stories of how she is bullied by people at school. His voice turns from sombre to surprise as he describes one of the most profound things that she ever said.

Before leaving, Aaron asked Lily what makes her happy. He then describes that she replied, “ I’m happy you’ve hugged me even though I am dirty”.

Aaron paused for a moment before saying, “It was just the most crushing, heart breaking moment that poverty had put this girl in a place that made her feel so devalued and without a sense of worth.”

This was the story that Aaron told at World Vision youth conference that same year. A moment where he incited empathy into 1000 school kids and a passion for making a positive mark on the world. He describes it as a surreal moment where we felt that he, in a way, brought Lily some justice by bringing her story back with him.

Bringing about social justice was a goal that Aaron had made for himself, which could be outworked through his position at World Vision. Another goal that Aaron had set since he was in high school, was to learn a language. As part of his degree in International Studies at university, he was required to minor in a language. He began learning French but admits that he gave up in within six weeks because he felt it was too hard. After thinking about it for a while, he decided to pick up Chinese in his second year as he felt it would be useful later in life. One year turned into two years and then into a third before he received a scholarship to live and study in China for six months, fully paid by the Chinese government last year. He discusses that being over there was an eye-opening experience. “Living in another country, in another culture surrounded by different people who are all speaking a different language, really reshaped my perspective of the world.” He explains, “It makes me realise that the way I live isn’t normal, the country and city that I live in isn’t everyone’s normal.” He talks about how his travelling has helped him to relate to other people properly and to take into account their life experiences when you have to understand where they are coming from. “This was a really personally defining moment for me where it tested me in a lot of ways, I didn’t have any friends or family while I was there at time there weren’t even people that I could speak English to. It was forcing me to communicate in a way.”

Taking on these volunteering opportunities has paid off for Aaron and in turn has been beneficial for not only career opportunities but also personal growth.

“Some internships I’ve had over the years, so say interning with a politician, that was more of a personal motivation. I saw that as an opportunity to develop skills, to be exposed to workplaces and people with greater knowledge that I could learn from. So I think the ability to learn through volunteering has been very important.”

Politics is also a topic that Aaron has a deep interest in. “Politics…” He paused for a moment to catch his thoughts. Then he said something that really made me think differently. He explained, “For me, I think I’m most passionate about politics because I see it as a means to make lasting and meaningful change. Politics is something that affects all aspects of life and it is a tool that can bring around change in people’s lives.”

Aaron hopes that in the next five years he is still continuing on his journey for social justice. “I’ll hopefully have finished my honours and my masters to be done in Canberra. I also hope to do a one or two year program somewhere or maybe even work overseas. Hopefully I’ll be in a relationship too if I can manage that with work and study.”

Although there are always fears for what the future hold, he remains positive and motivated. He hopes that next year he will be able to work for the Australian Government, particularly in the foreign affairs sector although he believes that he will need more experience before he can make the impact that he wants to see.

He explains that he also seeks motivation from other people. “I think the thing that pushes me is when other people do things that inspire them. So when people step out of their comfort zone, or if people are excelling in things they are passionate about, that challenges me to push myself further.”

But he is focusing on the here and now. On the days that he isn’t working to complete his honours thesis for International Relations, you could find him sitting in on a university meeting, making a speech at a local high school, researching at World Vision, running youth groups around his local church or maybe you won’t even find him. He may just be leaving his mark somewhere across the globe.

Aaron Lovell

Aaron Lovell

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‘What’s Hidden’ in The Mind of a Dementia Patient

You know when you’ve stepped into the carpark and you’ve forgotten where you’ve parked the car? Times that feeling by 10 and that’s how dementia patients feel most moments in the day.


Dementia is a chronic disease of the brain that affects memory; including memory loss, personality and behaviour changes, and the inability to perform everyday tasks. This disease has no known cause and cure. A dementia patient’s abilities change each day and even within the same day. These abilities will continue to decrease either over a couple of months or years.

My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia about 3 years ago and now has moderate to severe dementia. These days she can’t really do much at all. She has lost the ability to do most basic things, has very poor concentration skills and her quality of life has been decreased. There is so much that has not only been hidden in her memory but many important moments have also been lost.
 For my mum, it has been one of the hardest things to deal with. Everything changes. She now requires 24/7 care, around the clock, having to help with things such as going to the toilet and getting dressed.

Lorraine, a diversional therapist from ‘The Cottage’- Dementia Care, explains,

“That’s the awful part of dementia that most people don’t understand, it starts with forgetting things like ‘where did I put that?’ and all those other things that people think all dementia is, but then bodily functions cease to work how they used to. If only it was just memory loss.”

The most important thing that we’ve learnt is not to take it to heart. Grandma has forgotten family names, and can get mixed up with faces. You just have to laugh it off and understand that she can easily get confused and upset.
Lorraine explains that although dementia patients are struggling with everyday life, the real struggle is with the families and carers.

“They [dementia patients] don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t know what they’ve lost, often they are just happy living in the moment”.

My mother talks about how hard it is to grasp onto the fact that she can’t remember milestones- that she has married or had kids, “Often when I go to see her she says, ‘Are you staying for dinner?’ and I say ‘No I have to go home to my family’, ‘Oh have you got a family?’ she says.”

Dementia is a debilitating and heartbreaking disease, there are many moments in their life that are hidden beneath the surface and may never be retrieved or remembered but the best you can do is make sure they are happy.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tessaoakey

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JRNL102 Multimedia Proposal

I’m having a few ideas for the the next journalism assignment. I was thinking of discussing the topic ‘human trafficking’ as my best friend’s brother is the youth ambassador for world vision and travels to world to help underprivileged countries. I figured this would be difficult though as I only have one talent and I wouldn’t be able to take original photos.


My next idea was about human psychology and in particular dementia. My grandma has been diagnosed with dementia and it is such a complicated and heartbreaking disease. I would cover the topic ‘what’s hidden’ as the cause and cure is unknown as well as the loss of memory. I will interview my grandma and see what kinds of things she remembers on different days and I will also interview my mum as she is the primary carer of my grandma. I want to also try and get an outside perspective on the disease and try to contact nurses and carers. I will use a mix of photo and videos as videos are great in capturing the facial expressions and reactions to questions but I also really like the effect that photos give.

Hopefully it will turn out well and portrays the emotions that the disease causes for the patients, families and carers.

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Make a Wish

Kiara Johnston is a wanderer at heart, who is still finding her feet in the world.
Through the roller coaster ride of the life, she has been able to discover a place that picks her spirits up and helps ease her worries. Venturing with adrenaline and thrill through the silent but dangerous landscape, she came across a magical place, ‘Solander Cape’.
Ever since, she has always come back to give her some perspective, realising that her problems have no bearing on the wider workings of this wild yet blissful Earth.

Look out for some shooting stars!

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Love, Laughter & Life with Carly Lovell

Carly Lovell, 18, UOW student

Carly Lovell, 18, UOW student

“I don’t really have a life motto. But if I did it would be something along the lines of…
live for something bigger than yourself‘ ”

Carly Lovell is one of the most inspirational, kind hearted people that I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. One minute in Carly’s company and you are blown away by her amazing attitude about life; you can see the glimmer in her eyes and the excitement in her smile.

Carly Lovell, an 18 year old UOW student (Bachelor of Law and International Studies), has achieved amazing things, brought happiness to many and has the brightest future ahead of her. 

When I asked her about her big idea, the ultimate dream, she gave a smile and said, “to gain knowledge and experience the world through travel, in order to one day be in a position where I could help other people to live they way they deserve… to help in their fight for justice and let people know they matter.” She then added with a laugh, “and have a whole lot of fun and adventure along the way! So I have stories to tell my grandchildren.”

Carly grew up in church with her family and since before she could remember had always involved in the youth group there. “It’s been a cool journey growing up in my church and finding my own place there, being a part of such a fun and loving environment. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I have to invest back into it and walk through life with young people who I once was.”

Adventure, fun and thrill is what she lives for. “The world is there to explore and I love that I have friends and family who are willing to explore it with me!”  Whether it is exploring new places, jumping off cliffs, riding down giant hills on her skate board or going on insane rides, she is always up for a new challenge and experience.

Carly spreads her joy through many community programs including youth work at ShireLive youth at their friday night programs. She is also involved in a non-for-profit surfing organisation called ‘Christian Surfers Australia’ that aim to bring a “crazy fun and positive presence” in the Australian surf community. Currently she is doing some work with the local Sutherland Shire Council at different community events such as ‘The Mayoral Debutante Ball’. In 2011 she had the opportunity to be involved in the building of an orphanage for survivors of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, in Rwanda as well as other community, medical, and school projects in both Uganda and Rwanda.
Her generous and loving nature was recognised within the community as she had the honour of being named the Sutherland Shire Young Citizen of the Year for 2014, recognising the range of work that she has been involved in.

Carly is determined to make a footprint of change within the world, so look out for her as she ventures across the globe planting love behind her.

“Loving God, loving people, and loving life is the way I’d say to go… life is goooooood!”

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Journalists Left Jobless

Every year, thousands of eager, spirited and enthusiastic students enrol in a Journalism degree all over the country, in hope to make change. Among them are the writers, the columnists, the presenters, the foreign correspondents; all passionate, optimistic and of course extremely hopeful. With jobs in the industry continually dropping, there will be only few survivors, lucky enough to achieve their dream job. Is journalism a ‘dying’ career path for students?

As job opportunities in the mainstream media decline, the number of journalism degrees offered by universities continue to rise. An article in ‘The Australian‘ shows that Australian universities enrolled a record 4750 journalism students in 2010, even though the media employs only an estimated 9000 journalists, and that number is continuing to grow.

Diana Bossio from ‘The Conversation’ notes that young people are still interested in communicating for a living but the industry seems incapable of supporting this interest with suitable employment.  Why are students still so interested in communicating, despite the knowledge of the lack of jobs?

Bossio believes that this is indicative of the changing understanding of the role of journalism in a convergent media age. Students have a much broader view of the industry itself and journalism skills are seen as important for an array of potential media careers.

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Is Citizen Journalism Destroying Professional Journalism?

In a growing digital and technological age, the AHRC (Australian Human Rights Commission) explain that it has opened up new possibilities for the right to freedom of expression. People from all over the world, are able to contribute to discussions and the posting of content/issues through the realms of blogs and social media (eg. Twitter, Facebook). It has given the general public the ability to post and report on what is going on around them and therefore has caused a rise in citizen journalism. But how can the general public have the ability to produce ethical, authentic and unbiased material that professionally trained journalists provide? Can we trust citizen journalism?

It is no surprise that citizen journalism is continuing to rise in popularity. It is a big contributor to the way we source our news everyday, with access to internet at anytime and anywhere. Naadjanie argues that it therefore provides many benefits that professional journalism does not provide, such as first-hand eye witness information. She describes that in some cases, professional journalists can be banned or censored by officials, which is where citizen journalists can provide information which can be used in mainstream media.

Despite the positive effects that citizen journalism contributes, there are also downfalls within the credibility of the sources.
As singular eyewitnesses to current events, we put our trust in the citizen to provide a truthful story. Burkholder from ‘Journalism Ethics‘ addresses the ethical issues associated and shows that the authenticity of photos are published on the web from all over the world are difficult to check. There have been cases, where mainstream media has used a faulty story that was relied upon citizen journalism. An article on ‘citizen journalism vs professional reporting‘, suggests that although the internet provides fast access, professional journalism contains verified, much more dependable information and provides a fuller, longer story.

Townsend from the DOHA for media freedom explains that  the lines between journalism and citizen journalism are blurring.
So who wins the war on news reporting?

 

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Creating An Identity

 

The journalism culture becomes recognisable in the way journalists think and act. It involves negotiation between the dynamics of the journalist as a person and as a professional, each of which serve  its own characteristics, perceptions and factors of influence on writing and reporting. The evolving and often overlapping mediums of technology in journalism must be seen in terms of its implementation and therefore how it affects your way of doing things.

Journalist students therefore draw on their character traits, ideals and values to form opinion and personality within their work.
Students may undergo a shift between their personal and professional identities through the approach to their work in their studies and through their personal journalistic work. University of Wollongong journalism students, Veronica Cremen, Amelia Murphy, Euan Malcolm and Claudia Comacchio discuss their views and experiences on finding the balance between a personal and professional identity.

 

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UOW Journalism student, Claudia Comacchio, searches to identify between her personal and professional identity

 

Euan Malcolm, 18,  is lifestyler and travel blogger and student studying a Bachelor of Media/ Communication and International Studies. As an aspiring Foreign Corespondent, Euan blogs regularly about travelling experiences.  With his personal identity being shared online through Facebook, as well as his professional identity through blogging, he makes sure that both identities are infused. “I think your precessional identity has to be relatable to your personal one. I will not work in a place being someone I’m not.” Euan believes that his Facebook reflects a lot on his professional identity, “a stranger could see me travelling, partying etc and that’s very much what I love to do”.

Claudia Comacchio, 18, is studying a Bachelor of Media/Communications and Arts and is still trying to make the connections and shifts to a professional identity. She hopes that throughout her degree, she can incorporate the things that she is enthusiastic and passionate about into her professional work.

Veronica Cremen, 18, is a studying a Bachelor of Media/ Communications and spends her free time vlogging on Youtube. Creating videos and sharing them to people online, allows Veronica to exercise her interests, on the aim to be a television presenter. She believes that her professional identity adapts to the type of work that she is doing and the environment that she is in. Usually she places a professional persona through her work but Youtube allows to “be more personal with my viewers” whilst still being mindful on how she presents herself and her ideas.

However, Amelia believes that her personal and professional identities are quite different. Amelia Murphy, 18, is studying a Bachelor of Media/Communcations and a Bachelor of Journalism, in hopes of writing as a fashion and entertainment columnist. “I’m much more of an out there person with my friends, I feel when you’re in a professional environment you should act more conservative in sense to ensure you give the right impression”. When working on her local radio station, she often kept it professional by increasing her knowledge and awareness towards certain topics in preparation.”Its important to make the right impression, not just once but continually.”

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The Film Critic

Angus, 28, University of Wollongong

Angus, 28, University of Wollongong

Ready, Set, Action!

Angus Collocott, 28, a student studying a double degree of BCM and Journalism is an aspiring film critic, hoping to present an insightful, smart and funny view in the industry. His previous experience, having worked for the company Event Cinemas, included attending pre-screenings and giving consumers his opinion of newly released films. This allowed him to find his niche, to review films and interview current film makers and actors.

In the future, Angus will be alongside his inspirations Mark Fennel and Margaret David writing about the fantasy of film and emotional attachment it creates; whether it be laughter, happiness, sadness or anger.

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‘The Block’ Star

Emma,18, University of Wollongong

Emma,18, University of Wollongong

The winner is…

Emma Davis, 18, hopes to pursue her ultimate dream of opening a shop alongside her idol Mark Tukey, designing and building furniture. But that’s not the only thing that she aspires towards, you also might see her presenting the news on channel 9.

Chasing her goals from the young age of 14, she practised the art of woodwork and fell in love with the processes of making beautiful pieces of furniture; from the designing through to building.

Her degree of Media and Communications, will see her working towards being a household name news presenter.

Where will Emma end up? I am just as curious as you!

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