Interim Pro-Vice Chancellor, Programs and Pathways, Professor Sean Brawley, recently led a team of 17 MQ staff on a pilot ‘Roadshow’ of the mid-North Coast of New South Wales.

Over 300 students from six schools in the region attended Roadshows held at three local high schools in Kempsey, Wauchope and Taree. With most of these students having no family member who has attended university, they were first introduced to the possibility that tertiary study could be a life choice they could consider. There followed a series of “tasters” where students rotated through a range of sessions that gave them insights into areas they can explore at Macquarie. Two parent evenings and one breakfast were also held. The Roadshow pilot proved a great success and enjoyed positive feedback from students and teachers alike. The Roadshow pilot was coordinated by Bonnie Faulkner from the Widening Participation Unit, along with her colleagues and the PVC (P&P), staff and student ambassadors from First Robotics, Big History Institute, Future Students, Social Entrepreneurship (PACE and FBE), Walanga Muru, Museum of Ancient Cultures, Dunmore Lang College, HSC Study Lab and the Department of Security Studies and Criminology.

Professor Brawley shares his ‘Day in the Life’ from the road while also reflecting on his regular practices.

First thing you do when you wake up? 

Visit the bathroom!  I am very regular!

Being on the road my routine is thrown out.  There is no gym at our hotel so a morning walk is an alternative.


Who can resist someone else making you breakfast? My normal breakfast is an apple and banana at my desk. I tend to arrive at MQ between 7-7:30am so I can get some work done before submitting to death by meeting!

How do you get to work and what do you do during your commute?

We have packed over 300 Goodie bags and had our final briefing over dinner the night before. Myself and Bonnie leave for Kempsey High about one hour north from our base in Port Macquarie as the advance party. We will meet the Principal and get things ready. We have to contend with a school assembly in the Hall we are setting up in.  A lot of nervous energy and glances. Many calls among colleagues: “Remember, it’s a pilot!”

The Widening Participation Roadshow team

The Widening Participation Roadshow team

I do normally drive to MQ, given the time of morning, and it cuts my travel by more than half.

What do you need to start the day?

Anywhere I am, I will at some stage early in the morning triage my emails (which need to be answered immediately, which will need to wait etc) and read the Campus Morning Mail. Wednesday also sees the Higher Ed section of the Australian.

Morning tasks?

Typically back at MQ I would be in a meeting. I have many meetings, though not as many as Sherman! I might also be doing some work around one of the big projects such as the Academic Program Lifecycle.  Today at Kempsey High we have another quick briefing on what we are doing, remind ourselves it’s a pilot and then I open our Roadshow to about 100 or so year 9 and 10 students before taking on the role of cameraman to capture our work today. I also interview the school Principal, who has helped make today a possibility.


Typically at MQ lunch is at my desk. I try to have one lunch a week with a colleague and catch up with what is happening beyond the Chancellery. At Kempsey High today lunch is in the Aboriginal Study centre at the school and kindly provided by the school. We got through our first major session of the Roadshow with only a few issues. We have a quick debrief and fine tune. We are building momentum!

Afternoon tasks?

Typically more meetings or getting some writing on projects done.  Today I’m still filming the Roadshow and playing general dog’s body so the rest of the team can do what they need to do.

Do you take a mid-afternoon break?

I normally punch through the day so I can hit the road by 4:30pm and hopefully miss some bridge traffic. Today at Kempsey we finish before the end of the school day, pack-up and then sit down in the shade for another de-brief. It was a big first day.  Everyone is exhausted but we got through!

What do you do for a break?

If I need a break at MQ I will walk around the Lake. Walks to the other side of campus help! Recently I have had physio appointments. Too much time sitting and perhaps too many years of rugby!  Perhaps playing to 37 was not the smartest move.  No breaks today.

End of day routine?

We get back to Port Macquarie about 5pm. A short break before a team dinner at 6:30pm. Quick shower and work emails. If I was at home and depending on the day of the week it might be a visit to the gym or taking various children to various sports training.

What do you do to close out the day?

Dinner allows more debriefing and celebrating our achievements. On return to the hotel we need to do some organising of vehicles for tomorrow. I get back to my room about nine. I don’t get much time these days for my research. I currently still have an ARC Discovery Project. I spend from 9-11pm writing a chapter that needs to be with the project team the following week. Progress is slow.

Commute home?

Normally drive home and hopefully before the bridge gets to busy. If its not looking good I’ll wait till 6:30pm.

First thing you do when you get home?

Usually get dinner ready, check emails for the day and do a little writing before winding down with some TV.  At the moment enjoying the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? Can’t help the Historian in me!

Do you tend to take work home with you? Do your activities at home sometimes inspire your work?

Alas there are not enough hours in the day so work does go home.  On weekend I try to jealously guard time though sometimes there is no choice. It’s not too onerous and the flexibility of academic life is a great gift.

Posted by Sean Brawley

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