Jessica Cowell (née Assef) (Fr 2006) shares her experiences at St Andrew’s, life lessons and her plans to travel to Italy for the Church Missionary Society of Australia.
When were you at St Andrew’s and what did you study?
I was at St Andrew’s from 2006-2008, and was studying International Studies/Law at the University of Sydney. So it has been well over a decade now since I was a fresher!
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Moree, in northern NSW, and studied at New England Girls’ School (NEGS) in Armidale as a boarder for the six years of high school. My Dad, Paul Assef, also lived at St Andrew’s College in 1975.
What are your best memories at College?
I have fond memories of sporting victories (particularly tennis), but made lifelong friends studying the Bible with fellow College students.
What did you do at College and/or university that you are most proud of?
Uni was a very significant time for me – it really was the point at which I made decisions that I have followed on from about how I would live life as an adult. I am very glad that I took the opportunities I had to put my faith in Jesus as the top priority in my life. This was helped by sad experiences while at Uni, losing both my Dad and my cousin very suddenly to different illnesses, when they were in their 50’s. It reminded me that life is very short, and we don’t always have control over it the way we would like to think we do!
What have you been up to since you left College?
When I finished at College, I married Simon, who I had met through the Evangelical Union at Sydney Uni – we were on a trip in India for two months with a small team and thought we’d better keep spending time together after that! When I finished at university, I worked for a couple of years at Clayton Utz as a lawyer before heading back to Carillon Avenue to study for two years at Moore Theological College. Since then, our gorgeous girls Lydia and Emma have come along.
What are you doing now? What projects are you involved in?
Right now, Simon and I are in the pre-departure stages of being sent to Italy by the Church Missionary Society of Australia, to work with the Italian movement of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. In Australia, university Christian groups such as the Evangelical Union (EU) have a staff to student ratio of about 1:6,000 while in Italy it is more like 1:115,000. They are very keen to have more workers. We look forward to taking up their invitation to work with them, and hope to be reading the Bible with students and talking about Jesus with young people, as they consider him for the first time as an adult.
Would you say St Andrew’s helped build your life experiences and business career?
I loved living at St Andrew’s College. I think the challenge of having peers and friends watching how you live your life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, helped me to try and live with integrity. You have no choice but to be honest about what you believe, your failings and your strengths when people see how you live. This is a great blessing in my life, to have had the chance to think this through right from the start of adulthood!
If you had advice to give your 18 year old self, what would it be?
Love your friends. Life can be harder than you realise yet, and a supportive friend, or even better, a whole community, can make a big difference.
Is there anything else you’d like to share/add?
In the last few years, I was involved in the pastoral care team at St Andrew’s College. I feel really proud of the diverse group of students living there, and the way they are supported by their peers as they focus on many different aspects of life, whether it be music, sport, various academic pursuits, or faith. Long may it continue!