Jennifer Power-Geary long decided that with her range of interests, she would be an actor, scientist or a presenter at a zoo. The UNE science honours student has studied a bit of everything, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I began studying a Bachelor of Theatre and Performance at UNE in 2013. I loved this start to my university experience. It challenged me to be creative, transformative, develop people skills and work as an effective member of a team.”
Jennifer says she’d been enthralled with theatre ever since playing Santa in a preschool play. From there, she entered all the talent quests and took part in all the plays she could: “I like getting a reaction from a crowd!”
However, while growing up on a farm in Grafton, Jennifer’s parents also instilled in her an inquisitiveness and respect for the world around her.
“My dad would help me collect water from our dam and set up slides so I could watch small organisms move. At the beach, my parents would take us over to the rock pools and my father would tell us about the animals and ecosystems that existed there and how delicate, dangerous and remarkable they were.
“My mother has a brilliant knowledge of native flora and fauna. She loves our farm, and every day she takes note of the birds that she can see on our wetland.”
So as much as Jennifer enjoys theatre, she couldn’t resist the gravitational pull of science either.
“In my second year, I changed my degree to a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science majoring in theatre and performance and zoology, because I had friends in science who would tell me about all these brilliant things they were learning and I didn’t want to miss out! I took multiple units to explore my interests in English, theatre, music, media and communications, zoology, ecology, and chemistry.
“While it was a challenge rushing from one side of the UNE campus to the other to get to classes, I actually found switching between my two areas of study quite liberating. I felt I was able to exercise my entire brain and explore all my interest areas. I think when you have questions, it’s important to consider all the different subject areas that can help you answer them effectively.”
Jennifer says she found the skills she gained in one subject were often useful for another.
“I can be required to memorise many pages of a theatrical script, so when it comes to formulas, details about animals or the evolutionary tree, I could call on the memorisation skills I had learned in theatre,” she says.
Now researching industry and stakeholder perceptions of laying hen welfare for her honours year in science, she says some of her theatre skills still come in surprisingly handy.
“Through my theatre studies, I was able to build my confidence, grow my skills as a presenter, and I no longer freeze immediately in public speaking, which was immensely helpful when I had to present my poster at the Australian Poultry Science Symposium in Sydney this year!”
“It’s fun to do things outside your comfort zone. And the friends I have made is one of my favourite things about studying a diversity of subjects. I have met people from all walks of life with lots of different interests and talents.”
Image: Jennifer Power-Geary at the Australian Poultry Science Symposium 2019