Meet our students: Philip Chan

3 January 2013

As part of his degree, Philip Chan travelled to Seoul for an internship at the Australian embassy and a leading Korean newspaper
As part of his degree, Philip Chan travelled to Seoul for an internship at the Australian embassy and a leading Korean newspaper

When Philip Chan moved interstate to study at the University of Sydney he knew it would be an adventure, but he didn't predict quite how far afield his degree would take him.

Five years into his combined Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) and Bachelor of Laws, Philip can now add an internship in Seoul, several Model United Nations conferences, campaigns for social justice and ethical products on campus, and a number of successfully scaled rock climbing walls to his list of adventures at the University of Sydney.

"I've really enjoyed my time at university so far. I've loved the diversity in my degree structure; the practical components in my media subjects have been really exciting - from making a video documentary on depression among sports players to the issue of young people stuck in nursing homes for a radio story," Philip says.

"It's also been great to be part of the law school and be taught by academics who are at the cutting edge of the legal field."

Philip was also lucky enough to have his twin brother William by his side during the transition from school to university and his move from Brisbane to Sydney. The twins and their family moved interstate when both boys earned merit scholarships from the University.

In 2011, Philip won a scholarship from the Australia-Korea Foundation to travel to Seoul, South Korea, to complete an internship at the Australian embassy and the leading English newspaper, the Korea Joongang Daily.

"It was an incredible experience, I was able to gain an insight into working in a newsroom and to be a real journalist interviewing people and writing stories. Not only that, but I was also able to gain invaluable cross-cultural skills, which many students don't have the experience to do, so I feel very fortunate."

Philip has also been a passionate advocate for social justice causes during his time at the University of Sydney, including Fairly Educated, a group that organises advocacy around ethical products on campus.

"We've been inspiring students on the issue of fair trade certification and campaigned for the University of Sydney Union (USU) to make the switch to ethical coffee sold on campus. A few months ago the USU announced they would switch their coffee to Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee, which was a good result," Philip says.

He has also been involved with Vision Generation, the youth arm of World Vision.

"Since its first year, Vision Generation has been one of the most prominent social justice societies on campus. We've done a lot of campaigning on the issue of child trafficking and slavery, particularly in the chocolate industry. Not many people know about it, but the majority of cocoa used in chocolate production comes from West Africa, where slavery is commonplace, so we've been able to raise awareness and a few campaigns around this," he says.

Philip is also a member of the Sydney University Rock Climbing and Mountaineering Club (SURMC) and enjoys rock climbing in his spare time at the Ledge at Camperdown Campus.

Looking back on his eventful years at the University, Philip says it's important for school leavers to keep an open mind.

"Students should definitely choose an area they're passionate in, but also be flexible enough to try different things once they come to uni," he says.

"Sydney Uni offers very flexible degrees, and sometimes you might not know you have a hidden interest or talent in a certain area. It's important for students to realise that you don't have to have everything figured out by the time you get to uni. There are a lot of options to change your subjects or even your whole degree."

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