Where Are They Now - Stephen Dixon
author: Lorrie Liston
The College reconnects with Stephen Dixon (SPC 1982-1985), pictured with his wife Miho and son Sean, aged, 13. Stephen took study leave to travel to Japan back in the early 1990s and 25 years later, is still happily and working abroad.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
After graduating from St Pat's in 1985, I began a degree in primary education at La Trobe University in Bendigo and then spent my fourth year at Victoria College in Burwood where I studied special education, majoring in intellectual disabilities. University was followed by a two-year stint teaching at Kew Special school before the school moved to Community Services. Since I was studying Japanese at Monash at the time, I decided to take study leave for a year to travel to Japan in 1991. Now 25 years later I'm still happily living and working in Japan, teaching science at St Mary's International School, a Catholic all-boys school in Tokyo - it's strange, but perhaps not too surprising that things have now come full-circle.
Many things have happened during my time in Japan. I married about 20 years ago and my wife and I now have a 13-year old son. Currently, I'm in the final phase of my doctorate and don't quite know how I'll spend my time when I finally complete my course. Most likely I'll return to my study of Japanese and karate.
What are your favourite memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
I think some of my favourite memories of my life at St Pat's would include the Head of the Lake, movies on Saturday nights, Mr Farley's jokes, chanting the War-Cry, the time spent with friends, and riding bikes we borrowed from Brother Zoch to discover different parts of Ballarat. I enjoyed these times and still occasionally hear a U2 or Midnight Oil song that brings me back to life in a dorm or one of the houses and my days as a boarder. The happy memories are not that far away.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
It is hard to choose just one teacher among the many I had in my four years at SPC as the person who had the greatest impact on me - which I think is probably a good thing. So many teachers have influenced me. There was, however, one group of individuals who I think have shaped how I view and approach the world - the Christian Brothers.
However, among the brothers and teachers at the school I often remember Brother Breech. I can still clearly recall how Brother Breech approached me to join speech and debate in his encouraging and polite manner. Brother Breech was kind, smart, modest, trust-worthy and he noticed the little things. It was very evident that he cared about people and would go out of his way to help others. I think his actions and the support he gave me had a strong influence on my decision to become a teacher.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
I think my education at SPC impressed upon me the need to persevere and support and encourage those around you. I felt that the environment of the school made me feel that people are important and found that the teachers were always willing to spend time with you to explain things when you asked for help. I appreciated this kind of experience and now teaching in a relatively similar school, always feel obliged to do what I can to help struggling students, knowing that I once faced the same kinds of hurdles.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
I think being a boarder, having to share, and having to get along with others helped shape my values and accept the bumps, potholes, and detours that occur in family life. As a boarder, I had to assume responsibility for so many of the things I took for granted when I was home living with my parents. Being surrounded by others was a daunting experience at first, but one that over time, I grew to appreciate. It taught me that you have to be flexible, make an effort to think and care for others and that you can't always have things your own way.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
Based on my experience of teaching boys for quite a number of years, I would say the following.... Decide what is important; show up (Woody Allen says that 95% of success is just being where you need to be); and surround yourself with good friends who will bring out the best in you. Don't put others down; make the most of each day, and occasionally try to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Be optimistic and accept setbacks as a part of life; be gracious and modest when you win; be persistent, and smile when you lose, but always try to be flexible in your thinking and kind and considerate in your actions. The world needs these people, and SPC has given you the foundation you need to make great things happen. Good luck!