A note of inspiration in an unlikely place

Image shows graduation student speaker Max Henshaw in his graduation robe
July 2018 graduation student speaker, Max Henshaw, nearly quit his studies until he found an inspiring note.

Being here today is a culmination of both great success, but also the overcoming of challenges and mistakes.

Answering nature’s call helped Max Henshaw find his motivation to continue and complete his law degree.

The student speaker at the ANU Law July 2018 graduation ceremony told the audience of an impasse he’d reached three years earlier.

“I was still very unsure as to whether I was capable, or willing, or indeed financially able, to finish this law degree,” he recalled.

“I saw a roughly scribbled note in, of all places, the men’s bathroom in the Law Library.

“As I stood there, ahh using the facilities, the scribbled note announced that ‘Losing is Temporary. Quitting is Forever’.

“In what was a crossroads point in my study, this sentiment stuck with me.”

He explained the challenges of studying at university, from “the finer points of unregistered interests” to six-hour exams, late nights and stress, and being uncertain about the differences between an error of fact and an error of law.

“Thinking about this tremendous moment alongside the scribbled note in the men’s bathrooms, I couldn’t help but reflect that being here today is a culmination of both great success, but also the overcoming of challenges and mistakes. This is valuable to remember.”

Max, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws (Hons), also thanked the parents of his fellow students, siblings, friends and extended families for their support and belief that the students would succeed in their education.

“We couldn’t have done it without you,” he said.

“Likewise, thank you to the lecturers, the tutors and the administrative staff at the ANU College of Law. It is you who provide the platform for us to expand our minds, aspirations and visions of the world.

“We have been so fortunate to learn from your experience and expertise. Thank you so much for your utterly profound contribution to our education.” 

Before you leave ANU, we’ve a few more questions, Max.

Why did you decide to study law?

When I first started, there were two main reasons. First, I’ve always enjoyed a challenge and studying law certainly provides that! Though I struggled a fair bit early on, I gradually got the hang of it.

The second reason was to study a discipline that gave me choice. Studying law can allow you to work across such a wide range of industries and sectors. As I went through my studies, I also began to understand just how much the law can be a mechanism for change and reform in society.

Better understanding and exposing myself to this aspect become another key reason to stick with law.

What was the best thing about your time at ANU College of Law?

That’s a hard one! Lots of good moments over the years. But I think finally graduating takes the cake.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about studying law?

Give it a crack! Law may or may not be your thing, but if you’re curious, there’s really no harm in giving it a go. Studying law provides you with a range of very useful and transferrable skills and knowledge that can open plenty of doors. Law is also an incredibly diverse and broad discipline.

Chances are if you don’t enjoy criminal law for instance, you might find something that takes your fancy in human rights law, IT law or even something more niche like the law of the sea. There’s so much interesting stuff out there!

What’s next?

Taking a break from study, work and the law! I’ll work for a couple more months before jetting off to South and Central America for five months of travel. When I return in 2019, I’ll begin work as a graduate at a law firm in Sydney.

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team