The Big lift Alumni

Here at The Big Lift, we not only channel our focus on current participants applying for the trip, or thank our current UTS student #volunteer networks for their ongoing efforts- we wholeheartedly appreciate the generosity and hard-working efforts of our previous #biglifters, enjoy hearing where our #alumni have landed, and learning how the trademark #payitforward attitude we foster in our participants and students alike across campus plays a role in their day-to-day lives. That's why we've decided to launch our BRAND NEW #BIGMAZING initiative: TBL ALUMNI- Where are They Now. Below you'll find profiles of some of our #tblalumni.

#TBL2010: Glenn O'SULLIVAN

1) How did you get involved with TBL?

Mel Bolton, co-founder of TBL here at UTS, invited me to a Pay It Forward tour in the US after graduation in March 2009. She had friends who had been running these tours for years, but I went in knowing pretty much nothing about it. There were four buses on that tour and I was the token Aussie on Bus 2. We visited:

  • Normal IL

  • Lexington KY

  • Greensboro NC

  • Atlanta GA

  • Mobile AL

  • Beaumont TX

  • San Antonio TX

At these locations we planted trees, cared for abandoned pets, painted doors for public housing, cleaned up public parks and had a HUGE amount of fun doing it! When Mel and I met up again in San Antonio, we both wished that we'd had an experience like that at UTS, and so we decided to bring the idea back with us to Sydney. After settling into our jobs back at home, we started working on the project in October 2009. It was here when, with assistance from Brett Smout and Rachel Yasmineh from UTS student services, we branded it The Big Lift, gave it a local identity, and got the first bus rolling in July 2010!

2) What did you learn about yourself, society or communities from TBL, and what was your most favourite memory from the trip?

I learnt that there's SO much opportunity to team up with people all over the world, and to make a meaningful difference to communities. My most prominent memory of the trip by and large would undoubtedly be bus idol.

3) Is their life beyond TBL? How have you kept TBL spirit alive beyond the trip? 

My mission for the last couple of years has been helping to solve un- and under-employment with Uber. Thousands of people from Sydney's 30 postcodes with the highest rates of unemployment are using Uber as a new source of income and we're just getting started.

4) What are your thoughts on the idea of 'paying it forward'?

I don't think paying it forward needs to be anything big, it can be as simple small acts that puts a smile on someone else face. That said, I do love combining the efforts of a group and seeing the impact that TBL can have!

 

#TBL2013: roy LOBO

1) What did your general university lifestyle entail before joining TBL?

Prior to my involvement with TBL, my university lifestyle consisted of attending classes and returning home straight after; I was not truly engaged in my university experience. TBL was part of the reason I loved uni when I completed my degree.

2) Why did you decide to join The Big Lift?

The community focused volunteering was a HUGE factor in deciding to go on TBL. I had previously seen very little of rural Australia and so I thought TBL would be a great way to experience these communities. I was also inspired by my friends who had attended previously. Their enthusiasm for life and good nature assured me that TBL would be right for me.

3) How has the 'Pay It Forward' attitude TBL fosters influenced you in your chosen career?

The Pay it forward approach has played a BIG part of how I conduct myself at work. I find myself constantly looking for situations where I can do a favour for someone else or make someone's day. Whether I am holding the door open for a colleague or just being helpful in my work, it is something that has brought me immense joy over the years. It has also helped me form strong professional relationships with my colleagues.

4) If there's one thing you could recommend to future participants, what would it be?

My recommendation is to fully involve yourself in the TBL experience. Make sure you talk to everyone and come in with an open mind. Soon you'll realise that you've gained a family of genuinely caring people who will change the world!

 

#TBL2012/2013/2014: Maree Selvaraj

1) What did your general university lifestyle entail before joining TBL?

I was involved with a few extracurricular activities and I don't know how people saw me, but I felt very unsure of who I was and shy/awkward/nervous/introverted. To be fair though, the journey to me becoming an extrovert and confident in who I am was a process that started before TBL and kind of reached its peak on the trip.

2) Why did you decide to join The Big Lift?

I joined The Big Lift because I was a Peer Networker and a few of those orange folks told me it was like that, but better and I loved being around people and wanted to get to know more people. Plus I love helping people so there was that added bonus.

3) How has the 'Pay It Forward' attitude TBL fosters influenced you in your chosen career?

I think Pay It Forward has helped me in remembering the kindness I've been shown. It's definitely made me more thankful for all I've been blessed with and makes it easier to serve and bless others with my life

4) What is your most prominent memory of the trip?

On #TBL2012, aka my first TBL, we had it pretty "rough"- only one hot shower for the trip and every night on the cold hard ground. When we arrived at the final town, it turns out that because my group had won the first night activities we were prized with some mattresses that the leaders had found in a storeroom. Now each of us could've easily piled up the thin mattresses to give ourselves a good night's sleep, but it went without saying that it would be ridiculous. My prominent memory is everyone in my group in unanimous agreement that we would spread the mattresses out side by side (there were about 16 of them all up) so that we could make one giant mattress that EVERYONE ended up sleeping on together. It was super bonding and stands out to me because it's what TBL is all about- solid relationships and putting others first!

5) If there's one thing you could recommend to future participants, what would it be?

Don't be a fool. Charity starts at home and you can't work out how to give until you work out who you are and what you're capable of giving out. TBL let's you do just that- work out who you are but more importantly then use that to make a difference right here at home. So seriously- JUMP ON BOARD!

#TBL2012/2013/2014: Wilson kwong

1) What did your general university lifestyle entail before joining TBL?

When I first came to UTS, I was actually a really awkward, shy 18 year old who didn't have many friends. I'd go to all my classes, then just go home- there wasn't much else going on and I didn't fell that connected at all.

2) Why did you decide to join The Big Lift?

To be honest, I just wanted to make friends- but I also thought going on the trip would be a good way to get more out of my uni experience than just tutes and assignments.

3) How has the 'Pay It Forward' attitude TBL fosters influenced you in your chosen career?

Going on the trip and meeting so many people from different walks of life helped broaden my perspectives- now, whenever I meet people, I consciously try not to immediately jump to conclusions about them without taking the time to get to know their story first.

4) What is your most prominent memory of the trip?

Staying up all night on the very last night of my first trip and watching the sunrise on the beach with all my new friends. It was an incredibly surreal experience (probably partially because I was so sleep deprived) and a really beautiful memory that I'll always hold on to.

5) If there's one thing you could recommend to future participants, what would it be?

Go on the trip with an open mind, and be prepared to get out of your comfort zone, because your experience will be so much better for it. Also, bring lots of layers to wear at night if you're going on the winter trip.