Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

Meet the Claridges: Two generations of Warrane boys

If there’s anything that alludes to the enduring nature of an institution, it would have to be the generations of the same family that pass through it. That is certainly the case with Warrane College and the Claridges. Martin Claridge lived at Warrane from 1976-78, while his son, 28-year old David, was in residence in 2007-08.

Martin was studying a double degree in Law Jurisprudence at UNSW during his Warrane years, after which he worked as a solicitor, and then as a barrister ever since – some 30+ years now. He grew up in Gladesville, attending school at Marist Brothers Eastwood, and studied in the UK for one year while his father – a teacher – worked there on exchange; before returning to Sydney and completing his high school years at St Pius X College in Chatswood. Around the time he started university, his father became principal of Albury Technical College – hence the move to Warrane.

“It was a bit different in those days!” said Martin. “It’s more now like a traditional university college… it was a bit of a larrikin atmosphere when I was there,” laughed Martin as he described memories of water bombing and playing rugby with fellow residents. To him, the current residents seem more dedicated to their studies than in his time.

“I knew that he’d lived in Warrane,” said David, when asked about his father’s time in residence. “He had a positive experience there and liked it enough that he was hopeful that I would go there as well…. so at the end of Year 12, when I was talking about moving out of home to be closer to campus, he thought that if Warrane was where I was going, he would be very on board with that. And if it was not Warrane, he would not be very on board with that! So he made his affection for Warrane pretty clear at that stage.”

“We were keen for him to go into Warrane,” said Martin of his son. “In high school he was already a committed student, so he was keen not to have to lose too much time from his studies in travel.”Something that obviously paid off, considering David’s HD average in university (which Martin mentioned proudly).

Dave lived at Warrane for his first two years of university, while studying Computer Science at UNSW. These days, he is a software engineer in Seattle. He had applied for jobs in the USA before wrapping up his studies, knowing that most big software companies operate there. He ended up chatting to Microsoft, Facebook and Google, and in the end didn’t hesitate to accept an opportunity with Google’s NY office – where he headed in January 2012.

After 3.5 years at Google, David was married to Rachael and had a little one (now known as one-year old Basil) on the way. He put in a transfer to Seattle to be closer to his wife’s family but found that Google’s Seattle office wasn’t as rewarding as he’d found in NY. Luckily, Seattle is a big tech hub so it didn’t take long for David to settle in at Mixpanel, a much smaller company but a much better fit.

For David, one of stand-out memories of college life was the Log Adventure, which was part of welcome week for first years – an orientation of sorts. “They had an activity for everyone to get to know their floor-mates really well. They put us out in the bush, at the Royal National Park, with the couch from our floor and a bag full of tasks, and we had to make our way back to college by lunchtime. So that was definitely a bonding experience.”

Another memory was of the Wednesday Night Guests, a tradition his father also recalls fondly. “The series of guest speakers they would have come to formal dinner on Wednesdays… There was quite a range from professors at the university, to professionals from different industries, to authors, to alumni at the college…a really great opportunity to hear from all sorts of different people’s life paths, and the choices they’ve made and how that’s affected their journeys. So that’s definitely something I think most people at uni didn’t have exposure to – those talks on topics that were not necessarily as academic or related to one’s major, but just a useful set of life lessons.”

So what do the Claridge men think they gained from their time at Warrane?

For Martin, he certainly gained a new understanding of his professional life. “I guess one thing was that you sort of understood better that you received a university degree to become professionals to serve society. I didn’t go into law because of considerations of what income I’d earn – I went into it because I thought I’d enjoy the kind of work… which turned out to be correct. But I didn’t really see it through the prism of it being a service to society… I came to that in Warrane.”

Martin also talked about the maturing of his Catholic faith through college life: “When I went into Warrane I was practising, but…making use of the formation there did deepen my faith; and opened up a new world of Catholic culture which I hadn’t previously accessed.”

David also felt he grew from his time at Warrane. “I think going to Warrane, living in a community with a bunch of other guys, was definitely a great way to transition into leaving home and being more independent,” he said. “There was the right mix of responsibility and facilities provided for… But also just learning to mix with a greater range of personalities and people from different backgrounds… There are people from the country, lots of people from other cities, international students…So it’s a group of people that might take you out of your comfort zone a little bit, and are a little bit less uniform than the group of people that I had mostly interacted with before Warrane.”

“I think it’s a great atmosphere for young men who want to study and to excel and to try and get their best results; because the studious atmosphere is kind of a support,” said Martin. “But also I think in terms of what they can learn by way of values there; they can see more easily the purpose of their being open to pursue academic studies to better be able to serve society later on. Those values are reinforced in Warrane. It’s a good friendly atmosphere where they can enjoy their lives and also they get experience of a wider culture than they would do just by following their own course.”

One thing is clear for these Claridge men: family values are key. When asked about the most rewarding part of their lives so far, Martin said being happily married to Gabrielle, and David mentioned the moments of helping his son Basil to take his first steps. It’s no wonder then that they would both love to see Basil at Warrane one day.

“I hope my grandson Basil – who was born in Seattle in the United States – I’d like him to go to Warrane one day,” said Martin. “I’d like to see a third generation at Warrane.”

“It’d be pretty fantastic – I like the idea of him following in my, and his grandfather’s, footsteps,” said David. “If he does end up going to uni in Australia, I think it’d be a great way for him to get in touch with his heritage and learn about my side of the family…and I think that would be a great place to do that. And he’d be sure to have some solid friends, and to have a good environment in which to study and to develop himself. So yeah, I think that would be quite the thrill if he decided to go there as well.”