Voice Behind the Key

Graeme Raftery

As our first Voice Behind the Key member profile instalment, your Golden Key UniSA chapter sat down with Committee Member and long-time Golden Key member Graeme Raftery to talk about his experiences in Golden Key, and why he believes everyone should unlock their potential with Golden Key International Honour Society.

Graeme has been a Golden Key member since 2004, and has been part of the Golden Key UniSA committee since 2012. You might recognise him as the silent figure behind every event, capturing the excitement and memories from the other side of the lens.

Tell us a bit more about yourself?

I’ve studied Chemistry, Microbiology and Computer Science at UniSA, graduating with my degree in 2004. Since 2010, however, my interest has turned to teaching starting first with learning Japanese and getting my TESOL certificate, working as a peer mentor/tutor for the Australian Refugee Association homework clubs for the last seven years and attempting a Graduate Diploma in Education in 2014. Since 2011 I have been an event photographer for the UniSA chapter and have been attempting to jump start a career as a professional photographer since 2015.

How did you hear about Golden Key, and what made you choose to become a member?

Becoming a member of Golden Key was always the other half of my goal when I started my degree (the other half? To graduate!) I’d always had a strong interest in Computer Science and was determined to put 100% into every subject to succeed. I was quite confident in ability to do well but membership of Golden Key was a way of finding validation of my effort from my peers and the University.

I was invited to become a member in late 2004 and was inducted in 2005 but it was only after joining the committee in the roles of Webmaster/Photographer in 2011 that I have felt the need to keep pushing myself even harder to keep up with the other members of the committee. The talent and enthusiasm is infectious and has helped me improve my photography over the years.

Why have you stayed part of the committee for so long?

Getting accepted into the committee role was really important to me. I worked really hard to do well by Golden Key and I found the dynamics of the committee meant we were always coming together, building relationships and making new friends. These friendships have stayed with me for life.

Joining Golden Key has allowed me to meet people with different energies and ideas—which can be a little bit intimidating at times—but it has made me more comfortable with and proud of my own work. Photography has always been a hobby of mine and I’ve joined other camera clubs, but it is Golden Key that has given me technical challenges that have strengthened my skills and allowed me to give back to Golden Key.

What have you gained from Golden Key so far?

You meet a lot of nice people—every year, there’s an influx of new members and new committee members, and even though team dynamics change slightly every year (and I’m not a particularly social person) I keep coming back to meetings, looking forward to engaging with as many people as possible.

I have also been given the chance to attend the 2013 Asia-Pacific Conference and 2019 Asia-Pacific Leadership Summit. As the Official Photographer I was able to observe and be part of the amazing teamwork that goes into creating and planning the conferences as well as participating in group activities and I’ve formed fantastic friendships and networked with people from all over the world.

Do you think that Golden Key has changed your life?

Definitely! Being an event photographer has led me to develop and become more confident in my work, which has now been published in countries like the US, UK, China, Japan, and Germany (not to mention Australia) in articles on politics, art, social sciences, general news etc. So I’ve had some exposure overseas, and it’s because Golden Key has given me the opportunity to develop in a profession that helps me contribute to society.

Golden Key promotes its three pillars: leadership, service and academics, and I try to embody these into my everyday life. I’m not tied to a particular field of study, and I get to work with so many people from various walks of life and watch their confidence and leadership develop in their studies, particularly as a mentor.

I also spend time tutoring those who need it most; those who can’t afford or access tutors regularly. I’m more than happy to give my free time to the Australian Refugee Association if it means being able to help within my community.

Would you recommend potential students join Golden Key?

Absolutely! Golden Key allows you to flourish in your community, your university and your professional field. It gives you a reason to strive for more and keep pushing beyond your degree. Golden Key also helps you focus on your goals, develop the ‘soft skills’ that many employers are looking for, and gives you direction and purpose.

As a committee, and Golden Key in general, we always looking for new people, new ideas and new experiences. Each of us who have been invited to join Golden Key are already in the top 15%, and this is a way to get recognised for that and to contribute outside of our careers. We can use that to further our potential, and let ourselves grow. It is not just get something to throw on our resumes; Golden Key can become the stepping stone for your career and your life.

Graeme is testament to Golden Key in many ways. He proves that you never know what you’re going to get out of Golden Key. Graeme joined Golden Key because he thought it would help him in his studies in Computer Sciences. Graeme is an integral part of our committee and the UniSA community. Now a photographer published in many different countries, Golden Key has helped Graeme unlock his potential, and hopefully this series inspires you to do the same. It’s a big world—how will you stand out?

Interview questions by Anisha Jay Ravindran and Linh Thai Dieu Truong. Responses by Graeme Raftery. Written by Biannca Challans and Anisha Jay Ravindran.

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