It takes time to change the world and for Nicholas Marin, receiving the University of Wollongong Honorary Chapter Scholarship means not having to choose between academic excellence and continuing his remarkable work in the community.
“I want to create a community that accepts and celebrates Australia’s multicultural foundation, where everyone is willing to understand and have a dialogue with each other – regardless of ethnicity, culture or religion,” explains Nicholas.
“It’s unreasonable to expect everyone to like each other, but being able to work together for a better nation is a lot more achievable. I’m pursuing a career in legislative reform so I can help foster a system and culture that supports and reflects the positive changes we see happening in our community.”
As a first-generation Australian – his parents emigrated from Chile as young adults – Nicholas has a personal appreciation for the opportunities Australia can offer immigrants and for the profound value that they in turn bring to our society, culture and economy. He is driven to close the substantial gap between our nation’s multicultural status and the necessary structures to support it.
Currently in his third year of a combined Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) degree, Nicholas says this unique blend of disciplines engenders a more holistic approach to what is a deeply complex landscape.
“You need the legal knowledge in order to create reform and to change the system, but PPE gives you the capacity to understand why the reform is needed and the benefits it could bring. It’s easy to look at the legislative system and understand the case law, but if you’re not able to really define the problem and learn from past mistakes, then you can’t create change.”
For the 20-year-old Illawarra native, engaging in meaningful volunteer work has been crucial in gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges and potential solutions. Since 2016 he has served on the board of the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI), working directly with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups to represent their interests and build healthy community dialogue. He concurrently volunteers on a research investigation into the judicial culture of disbelief when considering child sexual abuse allegations, and as an intern in Sydney-based immigration firm No Borders Migration.
“Volunteering is often seen as a resume-builder, but I don’t see it as that,” he explains. “For me, it’s about working towards something that adds more value to the world that I can offer individually, with ethical organisations that are actually achieving something meaningful, rather than being about just making money.”
But a hectic schedule of volunteer work and academic studies leaves Nicholas little time for paid employment to cover the basics such as textbooks and travel. Receiving a one-off stipend of $3000 through the inaugural Honorary Chapter Scholarship Program, which is awarded annually to a student that demonstrates genuine need and a commitment to community service, has given him the security to keep on doing what he’s doing to shape a better world.
“I’m so grateful for this scholarship; it enables me to continue my commitment to the community and to building a successful multicultural future for Australia, while still focusing on my studies and career,” says Nicholas.
“There are not many opportunities out there to gain support for this type of work, and without it I would simply have to stop volunteering and work in a job that doesn’t allow me to make the contribution to society that I would like to.”