Before studying at Griffith, Leigh-Chantelle built a career in marketing, consulting, and increasing awareness for veganism, with a variety of roles that took her around the world. In 2020, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), a degree that will help her discover her new-found passion for cyberpsychology, digital wellbeing, and digital communication.
Leigh-Chantelle was drawn to Griffith University for a variety of reasons, from the ability to start studying in the third trimester, to the nearby student village, to the wonderful lifestyle available on the Gold Coast. Her reasons for choosing psychology are based on years of travel and life-experience she gained through many international work opportunities.
“Travel can be transformative, and when I was in Europe in 2017 a friend asked me “what would you be doing if the world was already vegan?” which blew my mind and made me reassess two decades of my activism and volunteering work. I feel I have come back to where I was meant to be originally in studying psychology,” Leigh-Chantelle explains.
“I’m hoping to build a career in cyberpsychology as it combines two of my favourite things: technology and looking into why we behave, think, and feel certain ways. We are only beginning to see how new social practices have changed the way we interact and communicate with each other, and what we share about ourselves.
“I find it fascinating that we rely on technologies designed to addict us and amplify our attention. This impacts the things we buy, the content we consume, and even the way we vote in elections. There are so many potential consequences and impacts on our society that started with a handful of technology innovators, and I’m driven to understand this behaviour from a psychological perspective. I hope to continue through study until I can become a university lecturer myself, to help bring cyberpsychology into the mainstream.”
As a final-year student, Leigh-Chantelle has advice to those just starting on how to get through university – unsurprisingly, this ties closely to human interaction.
“It has been great for me to be friends with different types of people who have different interests, beliefs, and passions than me. On Orientation day, I met my “uni crew” and we have been tight ever since. We would not have been able to get through the past three years without each other’s support, feedback, encouragement, and most of all friendship,” she explains.
It can be daunting to start or go back to studying. Leigh-Chantelle suggests time-energy management, schedules, and physical activities to help manage your requirements and stay on top of your mental and physical health.
“I’ve worked from home and worked while travelling in the past, so I knew going into study that I would need to find a way to organise my schedule. Once the assessments are live on my upcoming courses, I break things up into monthly, weekly, and daily to-do lists, and focus on one major goal per day along with at least another small one. I’ve been doing this for most of the decade now and it was a great move to apply that to study!
“Sometimes when I get too immersed in the university world, I have to remember to get outside more and do more physical activities. I like to start the day with ocean swims, Pilates, or yoga, and then get into my day. I am also very health-conscious, so starting and keeping good health and fitness goals is important for my mental and physical health.”
Leigh-Chantelle says that coming to university as a mature-aged student comes with the benefit of already understanding a lot about yourself and how you work, learn, and manage competing priorities. She believes this has helped her get through the harder elements of study and ultimately help her towards attaining her goal of university lecturer.
“As a mature-aged student, it was great to be able to start with the summer trimester and be able to complete my undergraduate studies in three years instead of four – but it is a lot of work. Single-minded focus was essential for me,” she explains.
“It was hard at times, but I gave up all my volunteering and activism to focus on my studies. The student life can be a struggle especially the lack of consistent income and lack of travel that I was used to, but the benefits outweigh that. Keep your long-term goals in mind and work out what you need to give up to get where you want to go.
Being able to know your strengths and ask for help is essential when learning something new. Leigh-Chantelle does not let small obstacles get in the way of her major goals, instead uses them as motivation.
“My life has always been goal-focused, and I work day-by-day, piece-by-piece to achieve them. I also do not ascribe to mainstream ideas of failure as I think if you learn any lesson, you can gain something worthwhile from the experience. If I do not achieve a certain indicator of success, it acts as extra motivation.
“I learned a long time ago that there’s nothing to fear in asking others for help when I do not understand something. I have my uni crew to bounce ideas off of – we all have different passions and expertise so we can learn from each other – but I also have had great help from my tutors and have good relationships with most of our cohort and lecturers.
“I’m thankful that I was able to connect with great people on orientation day and continue to develop these friendships over the past three years. I also made sure that I was involved in the Griffith Psychology and Counselling Association at the Gold Coast for their educational and social events. Their end of year Gatsby-themed event last year was so much fun!”
If like Leigh-Chantelle you’re fascinated by the human mind and motivations, a degree in psychology will give you a broad understanding of the way human beings relate to each other. Griffith degrees in Psychological Science and Psychology will give you a thorough grounding in clinical, developmental, biological, cognitive, social and organisational psychology, and can be doubled with a range of other options such as criminology, law, business, and exercise science.