Home away from home

Image the College, circa 1900.

The College, circa 1900.

The Women’s College was the first residential college for women in Australia, and when the first principal, Louisa Macdonald, took up the job she was the highest paid woman in NSW. Currently there are 282 students, making it the largest on campus. This year the college celebrates its 120th anniversary, with a Gala Ball on 13 October and a Back to College Weekend on 7 to 9 December.

To salute the 120th anniversary of the Women’s College, SAM invited several residents to reflect on their experiences there.

Roya Baghai (1987–90)

Relaxing on the main balcony, 1947.

The Women’s College is an institution that encourages and enables leadership in young women at a formative time in their lives. Although I probably didn’t understand its full value at the time, attending the Women’s College has had a remarkable influence on my life and career.

My time there not only reinforced my belief in the capability of women to lead, influence and shape society, but also it instilled in me a sense of responsibility to do the same. I realised that the greatest legacy for a leader is to enable others in their success and self-development. The founders of the Women’s College have done just that.

Fiona McCuaig (1997–2000)
Image of netball team from 2011

The 2011 netball team

These were some of the best years of my life. I’m really not quite sure how I managed to get through my degree while having so much fun! There is no doubt that some of my strongest friendships came from my days at college. It is a unique and bonding situation where you are living with your friends for years in the same place. Everyone who attended is extremely grateful for such a wonderful opportunity.

Nhi-y Pham (2008 – )

My decision to move into college was driven primarily by the appeal of the extra-curricular opportunities available, and the potential for networking. I am still living at the college and it has delivered over and above my expectations. The friendships I have formed with the fellow residents and the people I have met along the way hold a key place in reflections of my time at university. Above all, the level of support from residents and staff has made me proud to call the college my second home.