Nik Vinsek has wanted to be a lawyer since he was a kid. But his work and family commitments – both closely linked to his financial situation – always presented the question: how was he going to kickstart his career?
Coming from a single-parent household, Nik grew up knowing the value of hard work. His mum worked tirelessly as a hairdresser to support Nik and his brothers upon migrating from Eastern Europe to Australia when Nik was just 6 years old.
Nik also got a job while still at school and would pick up shifts of a week night and on weekends, so he had some extra money for socialising with his friends. Balancing work and high school, while also squeezing in that vital time to simply be a teenager, was a careful juggling act. But Nik was focused and driven – he was determined to make his dream of becoming a lawyer a reality.
Read on to discover how Nik has worked hard to achieve a work, life and study balance that’s critical to his mental health and academic progression, with the assistance of the LEAD scholarship.
Talking to Nik, it’s immediately apparent that family commitments are a big part of his life. Fitting in time to support his family by helping out around the house is important to him. Likewise, his Mum was also eager to support his dream of becoming a lawyer.
“I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid and partook in some university law courses during high school, and this made me love it even more,” says Nik.
“When I found out that I had received the scholarship to UQ, the first thing that I did was tell my mum who was so excited she started crying.”
“Mum was never really given the opportunity to be able to study, and so I don’t take it for granted.”
Nik is the first person in his family to go to university, and the scholarship has helped him balance his study and work with his family commitments.
The scholarship has allowed me to focus on my studies and tone down the amount I work.
Bachelor of Economics / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
“It’s given me more time to help with my younger brother, such as taking him to school, and for extracurriculars,” Nik says.
He explains that while the scholarship has assisted with the transition to uni life, the amount of freedom he now has with choosing his subjects and arranging his timetable has taken some getting used to.
"I think this was a really nice breath of fresh air, but it also challenged me as I would have to be much more organised and consistent with work,” he says.
UQ’s LEAD Law Scholarship focuses on both financial assistance and community support, to help new UQ law students thrive. It provides recipients like Nik with $8000 a year, for up to 5 years, to help with living and study expenses. Recipients also receive a dedicated academic mentor for study support and to help with identifying extracurricular opportunities. The scholarship includes non-residential membership to a UQ college in the recipient’s first year of university. This membership means the student can access college meals, events, recreational facilities and internal courses to enhance their student experience and help with the transition from high school to uni life.
Nik explains that the scholarship has also provided him with more opportunities to undertake extracurricular activities that will ultimately build upon his skills as a lawyer. He joined the UQ Law Society and has had the chance to participate in Negotiations, where law students practise their abilities to negotiate mutually beneficial bargains for practice clients in a competitive capacity.
“My friend and I made it to the semi-finals, and it was one of the most fun extracurriculars I’d ever done,” Nik says.
“It taught me to never know what to expect with people, as the whole point of Negotiations is to get the best outcome for your client while the opposing side wants the same for theirs, so sometimes you can get to some really funny agreements.”
As well as taking part in extracurriculars, Nik hopes to start interning this year, with a few promising opportunities already on the cards.
“I found the easiest way so far to get into the law world is through networking and have had several contacts offer me internships in their firms whenever I wanted to start gaining experience.”
Adding life to the equation
As Nik has settled into uni life and the flexibility his scholarship offers, he has also come to realise factoring socialising into his work and study balance is essential.
“The scholarship has not only helped me to maintain a better work/uni balance, but it has also really helped out with my mental health, and to do better at uni in general,” he says.
“It’s allowed me to experience the fun and social side of uni that’s so crucial.”
Nik and friends at UQ Law Ball 2021
Even though Nik commutes from the Gold Coast to attend uni at St Lucia, he’s created a supportive network of friends in his program.
“I think attending social events and just having a social life in uni is very helpful – it’s a really good way to de-stress, create new connections and learn from others,” says Nik.
“I find even just hanging out with people to study helps me gain new insights.”
Nik explains that being surrounded by a welcoming community of learners at UQ has made all the difference to his student experience.
“I really enjoy the culture at UQ; everyone is very friendly (despite what they say about law students) and everyone is in the same boat as each other – we all just want to learn and grow as people.”
Nik’s advice for Year 12 students hoping to make it to uni is simple and reflects his own approach to getting into UQ: “Never give up – there is always something bright ahead of you!”