At 18, Bachelor of Education (Secondary) graduate Daniel Collins thought he would be married, living a comfortable suburban life and teaching in Brisbane. In his 3rd year of uni, Daniel’s study exchange to the US changed everything. With a love for all things science and travel, Daniel is currently teaching Biology and Chemistry at a Catholic school outside London and has a reputation for enjoying weekend snowboarding trips in Switzerland and term breaks in Egypt.
The Careers Team caught up with Daniel while at Nordcap in Norway (inside the Arctic Circle) to see how he combines his love of travel with educating students about science.
Could you please tell us about your background?
I’m 23, grew up in Brisbane and graduated from high school at Redeemer Lutheran in 2007. I finished at Griffith in 2011 with a GPA of 6.04 and was part of the Griffith Honours College for the last three years.
What made you decide to go to university?
To be honest, no other alternatives were ever given any serious thought. Everyone in my extended family had been to university. For me it was a very normal thing to do.
What are the most interesting things you learned in your degree?
I loved learning about Human Physiology. I remember sitting in the back of friends’ biology lectures (which I wasn’t even enrolled in) because they were so interesting.
What were the most enjoyable aspects of uni?
My exchange was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. I learned so much, made great friends and gained perspectives arguably more valuable than credit points. Without this experience, I would not be where or who I am today.
How did you feel when you finished your university degree?
I was very proud of what I’d achieved. I also remember feeling inspired to pursue further tertiary education.
What is your current position?
I’m teaching Biology and Chemistry at a Catholic school just outside of London. I’ll be moving back to Australia soon and will start teaching at a private school in Brisbane.
What are the most satisfying aspects of your job?
I get paid to talk about science. You get the opportunity to directly invest in and impact on the lives of young people. That’s what makes all the report writing and late night marking worthwhile.
Where are you currently travelling?
This year, I’ve travelled to 18 different countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America.
What are the most enjoyable aspects for teaching overseas?
I really enjoy learning about the culture of the UK through the relationships I’ve formed with my colleagues and pupils. I hope to use these experiences to improve my teaching in Australia.
Who is your career idol?
Bill Nye, the Science Guy and Derek Muller from Veritasium on YouTube.
When you were 18 years old, did you imagine that you’d be doing what you’re doing today?
I thought I’d be married with a comfortable suburban lifestyle and teaching in Brisbane. My exchange changed all that.
Are there any people or events that have strongly influenced your education and career?
My Grandad has been a huge inspiration to me. He started off as a regular classroom teacher, became a headmaster and played a major role in setting up the Mount Gravatt campus (before it became Griffith). He is still working as a barrister, specialising in education and law. His passion about education is infectious.
What are your future career plans?
One day I plan to move out of classroom teaching and become a ‘science ambassador’ or possibly move into politics. Some of the people responsible for the decision-making on education have hardly stepped foot inside a classroom since they were at school. I want to help change that.
Top Tips from Daniel
- Really important to get a broader perspective on the world
- There are lots of overseas opportunities to further your career
- Be prepared to put in the hard work to explore and apply for overseas opportunities