Justice-Lee – Bachelor of Visual Arts (Painting)

Justice-Lee Madden

At the end of Year 12, sick of studying and with no clear idea of what she wanted to do next, Justice-Lee Madden had been planning to take a gap year and just "go with the flow". But then her careers adviser told her about the E12 scheme, and she started to get inspired. Now she’s studying painting at Sydney College of the Arts – and loving every minute of it.

"I didn’t really know what to do when I finished school – I was just planning to go with the flow. I had no idea whether I’d ever go to uni – maybe one day, maybe never. But then I heard about about the E12 scheme, and I started reading through all the courses and subjects you could do at Sydney, and I got so excited! And then my friends told me Sydney was the best uni in Australia – I’d had no idea!

I always knew I wanted to do something in art. It’s always been my favourite subject – I just love it so much. My high-school art teacher, Ms Vanderbent, has been the biggest inspiration in my life – I just wanted to be like her.

But I wasn’t really sure if uni was for me. I’m a really practical, creative person, but I’m not ‘book smart’. So getting the ATAR I’d need to get in to uni seemed like a major hurdle. Also it costs a lot to go to uni, and my family doesn’t have a lot of money.

That’s why the E12 scheme has been so great. I could show them my portfolio and tell them in my interview how passionate I am about art. And the scheme gives you so much support – both financial and practical.

To be honest, the scholarship money was a big incentive to me. I knew it would come in handy to pay for all my canvases, paints, transport – even food, which is quite expensive.

I think Sydney Uni is great. And I love the fact that I’m off the main campus here at the SCA, where everyone is so involved in art, and all the lecturers are so relaxed and helpful. It’s only week three and I’ve already made such a lot of new friends. And my mentor is the most amazing person – everyone is so jealous that he’s mine! He’s in second year of the course I’m doing, and he’s just made it so much easier for me to settle in and meet people.

Uni has a way different vibe from school – it’s like a whole new start. And studying something I’m so passionate about has just been the best thing.

I paint in acrylics – especially portraits – and I also draw. I’d love to be able to say I’m planning to become a famous artist, but the chances of that happening are pretty slim! So at the moment I’m thinking maybe an art historian or an art critic – I think that would be really interesting.

I’m actually the first person in my family to do the HSC, let alone go to uni. My family’s heaps proud about me being at Sydney Uni. And I just love it!"