Renee Arblaster

Meeting Renee - she is a mix of nervous excitement. Majority of the way through her first year of uni, you can tell there is no place she would rather be. You would never have guessed that she was the first in her family to attend university and had felt a sense of fear going in. Her passion for finding out how everyone in the world connects through her studies in Human Geography is what shines through. She is driven, she is motivated and her family are 100% behind her.

When Renee told her parents she wanted to go to university, their response was ‘as long as you’re happy to put the effort in, we’re behind you.’ Considering she was the first in the family to do so, there was a sense of pride and excitement about it all but a lack of knowledge about what to actually expect.

Growing up in the Illawarra, her father and brother had gone into trades and her mother had gone straight from school into accounting work. From earlier experiences with In2Uni programs in primary and high school though, Renee was sure university was where she was headed. So she applied for early admission at UOW, and was thrilled to receive an offer.

That’s when the reality set in.

“I did feel like I was going in blind pretty much. I didn’t have any prior knowledge or experiences that could be handed down to me that could assist me in starting out. My parents were unsure of how university worked so finding comfort in the lead up to my first day was hard.” 

Like most first year uni students, Renee found everything she came across was new, overwhelming and even a little daunting at times. Attending her UOW orientation helped right away though, discovering that there were others that were first in their families as well.

“There was something special about meeting people in the same boat as I was. It was the exchanging of ideas about how they were coping that I found so helpful. It was motivating to know I wasn’t the only one.”

Her trick to getting through since then has been to use all the support services available, admitting she doesn’t hesitate to call up and get advice about everything she can. Her family have also backed her all the way. If ever she gets a mark that is a bit less than expected, her Dad assures her that she is doing well, and jokes that no matter what, she’s still doing better than he ever did.

Now having almost a year of uni under her belt, Renee is thriving at UOW and is loving learning about social issues and how they impact the world. While her current goal is to become a market researcher, she is well aware already that her studies may open her up to a million other career paths.


At UOW, I hope to gain the knowledge and opportunities to better myself as a person, and also gain the confidence to follow my career ambitions as I venture out of my comfort zone. Renee Arblaster Bachelor of Social Sciences (Human Geography)