Where are they now – Paul Huggett (SPC 1988-93)
November 30, 2021
The College recently reconnected with Old Collegian Paul Huggett (SPC 1988-93) who has been a social worker for over two decades and credits the extraordinary support of a former staff member during his student days when he needed it the most.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
After leaving St Pat’s I studied to become a social worker. I’ve been a social worker for 24 years now and I absolutely love it.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your work and industry?
It’s had a massive impact and I fear we’re yet to see the true extent of this for many individuals and families. So many folks have been struggling with loss of employment, home schooling and isolation to name but a few stressors. I’m currently the manager of Lifeline Ballarat and since the pandemic hit, we’ve had a 40 per cent increase in the number of calls we receive each day.
Do you have family ties with SPC?
My two nephews attended St Pat’s. One graduated last year and the other graduated in 2018.
What are your fondest memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
I had a great time at St Pat’s. There are many fond memories but most of all, I enjoyed public speaking and playing in both the junior and senior college bands.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
Peter McDonald was the student welfare coordinator at St Pat’s when I was there. He became like a father to me. A lot of people weren’t aware that I was really struggling as a student with personal issues. Peter kept me motivated and true to my path. He kept me safe. Sadly, we lost Peter last year to a long cancer battle. I still have his photo as my screensaver on my phone. That’s just a small example of how much he meant to me. He was simply the best example of a man I’ve ever met and I miss him dearly.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
As I see it, I received two forms of education at St Pat’s. There was the academic education and then the moral/values based education. This often gets referred to a ‘formation’ now amongst the Edmund Rice network. This is where I believe I really grew. Initially I was going to pursue a career in microbiology but I had a life-changing experience when I started volunteering on Edmund Rice Camps. It truly changed my whole perspective on life and I then gravitated to social work as a career. Years later I worked as the Executive Officer of Edmund Rice Camps Victoria. It was a great job and incredibly rewarding to work in what I consider to be one of the best programs the Christian Brothers ever established.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
St Pat’s taught me to walk your talk. It’s a bit like the old adage of ‘actions speak louder than words’.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
Grab every opportunity that catches your eyes and run with it.