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Q&A with St John’s College UQ resident, Matthew Flinders Anglican College alumna and Rubik’s Cube whiz, Paige Lena

Spotlight Q&A

Meet UQ journalism and law student Paige Lena and find out about her faith, her future goals, what her karaoke go-to song is and what she does to recharge and relax

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Where do you currently live and where do you worship?

I currently live in St Lucia in Brisbane. When I go back to Noosa, where my family resides, I usually worship with them.

How long have you been involved in the Anglican Church and in what roles?

I have been involved in the Anglican Church since Year 7, whereby I attended frequent chapel services at Matthew Flinders Anglican College from Years 7 – 12. I am now a second-year resident at St John’s College within the University of Queensland, and I am aiming to become more involved in the Anglican roles that St John’s offers.

Paige Lena at St John's College UQ

Paige (third from the left), helping out at a St John’s College UQ move-in day as social media officer in February 2023

What are your plans and goals for the next 12 months?

My plans, as briefly mentioned earlier, involve becoming more in touch with my Anglican side by becoming a more active and engaged member of the community. I hope to give back to the community by volunteering at multiple activities throughout the year to help those in need.

What do you love most about being a St John’s College within the University of Queensland resident?

The thing I love most about being a St John’s College resident is the culture we have here at John’s, especially the fact that everyone is accepted for who they are as a person. I love that we focus on ensuring that “everyone gets around everyone” and place an emphasis on fully embracing all aspects of college life, including the cultural, social, sporting and wellbeing.

Paige and fellow students at a women's AFL game

Paige (far left) and fellow St John’s College UQ peers supporting the St John’s women’s AFL team at their premiership game, St Lucia in April 2023

What is your favourite Bible scripture and why?

My favourite Bible scripture is when Jesus said, “ ‘I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’ ” (John 13.34)

This has always resonated with me ever since I was young, and I believe that it is a simple yet impactful philosophy/way of life to go by — that is to simply spread kindness into the world.

What person of faith inspires you the most and why?

A person of faith who inspires me is The Buddha, as his teachings and faith, and Buddhism, revolve around inspiring individuals to seek personal growth, cultivate compassion and strive for inner peace and liberation from suffering.

He emphasised the importance of compassion and kindness towards all living beings, which I strongly believe in, and promoted a sense of universal love and empathy, encouraging individuals to cultivate qualities that benefit not only themselves, but also others.

What are the primary strengths of the Church and what is the best way to make the most of these for the benefit of our communities?

I believe that the primary strengths of the Church include providing moral and spiritual guidance to individuals, and fostering a sense of belonging and community and providing support, care, and a network of relationships that can help individuals through life’s challenges. To make the most of these strengths for the benefit of communities emphasising inclusivity should be considered, meaning that the Church can actively work towards creating an inclusive environment that welcomes people from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance for all. Another approach is community engagement, whereby Church members can be encouraged to actively engage with their local communities and understand their needs, such as volunteering, partnering with local organisations, and addressing social issues.

Paige Lena and St John’s College lay chaplain Peter Brandjerdporn at St Lucia in May 2023

Paige Lena (right) and former St John’s College lay chaplain Peter Brandjerdporn at St Lucia in May 2023

Why is the Uluru Statement From the Heart, including the Voice to Parliament, so important?

The Uluru Statement From the Heart is highly important because it represents a significant step towards acknowledging and empowering Indigenous peoples in Australia. It calls for constitutional recognition, a voice to be heard in the decision-making process, and meaningful Reconciliation. By giving Indigenous Australians a formal platform to express their concerns, solutions and aspirations, it aims to address historical injustices and promote greater inclusivity and self-determination.

What is the kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

The kindest gesture I have ever witnessed was when I was working at Coles on the checkout around Christmas time, and I was serving a lady who was homeless (most people in the community knew she was homeless), and she was buying basics such as bread, milk and a few more items.

Her card kept declining and she said, “Don’t worry about it, thank you anyway, Merry Christmas,” and proceeded to walk away. I placed her groceries to the side but the gentleman behind her paid for it all, and said, “You don’t want someone missing out at Christmas time.” He then carried the groceries outside to the lady.

You could see the joy and surprise on her face when he gave her the groceries, and I won’t ever forget it.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?

The best piece of advice that has been given to me is, “A smile costs nothing, but gives so much,” which my Year 3 teacher told me. I strongly stand by this because as a person who has worked in retail for many years, you can see how much a difference being kind and smiling makes to someone, particularly if they’re struggling or having a bad day.

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

In my free time, I try to meditate when I can, as I strongly believe in its multitude of benefits, particularly in regards to mindfulness and overall mental health.

If you could have a billboard with any text on it, what would it say and why?

I would put the quote, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,” because I believe that any act of kindness has a large chain of effects and can make an immense difference to someone’s day.

What book have you given away most as a gift and why?

The book that I have given away most is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo because it contains several themes I consider to be important, including loss and recovery, kindness and compassion, and the journey to self-discovery, which can be summarised by a memorable quote from the book: “If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.”

Paige with friends from Matthew Flinders Anglican College at the Year 12 graduation, Buderim in November 2021

Paige (centre), with friends from Matthew Flinders Anglican College at the Year 12 graduation, Buderim in November 2021

What makes you nostalgic and why?

I think that Disney movies make me the most nostalgic because I used to watch them all the time when I was young, and I believe they have a sense of magic that isn’t captured in more recent movies; they truly are special.

What is your secret skill?

My secret skill is that I can do a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute, which I do consider to be my secret party trick.

What is your karaoke go-to song?

My go-to karaoke song is a duet with someone of ‘Breaking Free’ from High School Musical, because even though I can’t sing to save my life, I loved that movie growing up and that is one of the iconic scenes where the main characters met.

Paige Lena and her family at her Year 12 school formal in Noosa in April 2021

Paige Lena (third from left), and her family at her Year 12 school formal in Noosa in April 2021

If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

If I’m having a bad day and I’m back in Noosa, I usually go and cuddle my Dalmatians. If I’m in Brisbane, I either watch happy memories in my life that I’ve captured on my phone or I write down things I’m grateful for in my gratitude journal.

What day would you like to re-live and why?

A day I would like to relive would be when I first walked into Disneyland in California, and just experiencing that first surreal feeling of “Wow, this is really it!”, as I gazed in absolute of awe of how spectacular it was.

What’s your unanswerable question — the question you are always asking yourself?

My unanswerable question would be, “How can I further improve both my life and the lives’ of others?”

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