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

Patrick & David Tighe on college life, future goals and who inspires them

Keen to know why Warrane residents, Patrick and David Tighe, seem to be made of good stuff? We’re guessing there must be something in the water of their hometown of Coonabarabran. Or perhaps there’s something in the stars, because this country town, 500 kilometres north-west of NSW, happens to be the astronomy capital of Australia.

Either way it’s easy to see that the brothers have a love for their upbringing, and that their upbringing has loved them back – providing them with a solid work ethic and making them easy to talk to. Currently both studying at UNSW, 23- year old Patrick is in his final year of Commerce Law, and 19-year old David has just started his six-year Medicine degree (their middle brother, Alex, is studying Media/Law at Sydney University). And while their career paths may be poles apart, they both are on the same page when it comes to enjoying college life.

“It’s really, really awesome,” said David. “I think that staying at any kind of college is a bit of a luxury because you’re right there on campus – so you can get involved in everything; you have your food cooked for you; it’s quite easy to make friends… All those things about college are very good, but I think living at Warrane is even more special. It has a really strong college culture; a really strong team mentality which really encourages everyone to get involved and everyone to be proud of coming from Warrane. I mean, no disrespect to other colleges at all, but I have friends from other colleges and for them it’s just a place to stay rather than anything else.”

“I think the atmosphere within the college is pretty unique,” said Patrick. “I don’t think you’ll find many other places that have such a strong sense of collegiality… Obviously you gain really good friends, and living in a place like this, friends for life hopefully. And you’re doing a lot better at university than you would otherwise – than if you’d just been living in an apartment by yourself or with a few mates.”

This year, Patrick has taken collegiality to the next level by becoming Head Tutor. At Warrane, there are two tutors per floor – their role, as he put it, is “to make sure everyone’s getting along on the floor, no-one’s falling behind, and everyone’s enjoying themselves while at uni.”

Patrick continued: “I did that role for two years and this year I sort of stepped up to the role of Head Tutor, to help the assistant deans with some of the more administrative side of the college… It gives you a different perspective on college life… and gives you a good position to help the younger guys.”

And even though Patrick didn’t give himself too much credit, his brother David made sure to point out that it was a big deal. Not only does Patrick find himself in a place of leadership at Warrane, (having also been president of the college in my his third year of university, something he named as his most rewarding experience to date) but he’s also worked really hard to secure great employment in law for next year – something which he humbly put down to being fortunate and to the support of the college.

“Patrick is the eldest and he was the first one to go to university,” said David. “For my mum and dad, it was their first time knowing how to help their son through the process. He had to come and move into Warrane, and he wouldn’t have known what it was like but he had to adjust to that.”

David continued, “That was five years ago and now he’s secured multiple very prestigious law jobs… for someone to do that, from the position that he came from, and I don’t know if he mentioned he has a few medical conditions he’s had to deal with… To get through that, and to be able to secure these high-profile jobs that he has, he’s very inspiring. I look at that dedication and commitment and try and model myself off that.”

Anyone who can get through the three-month application process for a job in a law firm is certainly worthy of our praise. It’s no surprise that Patrick cited that as one of the most challenging things he’s ever done.

“That was pretty gruelling,” he said. “It’s just relentless – you spend a month putting your resume and everything together, you send it off, you get two dozen rejection emails and a few interviews, and then you go through with those interviews – through two rounds of interviews and cocktail nights – and then two months later you find out whether or not you get a job.”

While David had plenty of praise for Patrick, it was clear that he too works just as hard. When he completes his studies in medicine, he’d like to practise rurally.

“I really enjoyed growing up there [Coonabarabran] and the experience it gave me,” said David. “So I’d love to return to a rural area and enjoy that lifestyle, and also contribute to improving rural health.”

In fact, it was two people from his hometown that really inspired David on his journey towards medicine.

“The local doctor – he made a big sacrifice,” said David. “The town was going to be left without a doctor because the local high school had closed down, and his family had moved to Sydney for his sons to study…But he decided to stay. He flies to Sydney every week to see his family…I look at that and think that’s a huge, huge sacrifice that he has made, but at the same time very noble.”

The other person was one of David’s high school teachers. “She was my mentor,” he said. “She just had a very good knowledge of how to teach people – she was very passionate about helping students to do their best. And I always thought that was extremely noble and inspiring…She really went above and beyond… purely for the good of others.”

Because his brother Patrick was already at Warrane, David found the transition from country high school to big-city college quite a smooth one. But as with anyone, he’s had his own share of challenges to deal with.

“I think the most challenging thing I’ve ever experienced would probably be just dealing with, and keeping in check with, good mental health. Because I’m someone who tries to throw myself into academics, and do my best in anything that I set my mind to. But sometimes part of that is that I do get quite anxious… Just to be able to know my own limits, in terms of how much I can do and commit to; learning to deal and cope with that.”

So what else to the boys get up to?

When Patrick needs some downtime, he plays tennis recreationally and loves a bit of touch footy. Also, like any uni student, he has a healthy appreciation for a good cup of coffee. And while he doesn’t have too many political ambitions, he’d be happy to advocate for people from the country get a fair go. “Someone’s got stick up for the country towns!” he said laughingly.

He’s travelled to Rome and Israel with a group of guys from college, and would love to learn Spanish or Italian one day (in part due to some Italian ancestry). As for where he sees himself down the track, he reckons he’ll settle in Sydney or a regional centre – that’s where the jobs are, after all. For now he’s happy to take it one year at a time.

As for David, he also likes his sport and in particular, soccer. He plays the trumpet and is involved with a small orchestra on campus – and if he had the time, would love to pursue music further and improve his skills. For him, getting involved in university societies such as MedSoc is a big thing, and he’s all about living life to the fullest.

“I like to see myself as someone who’s passionate for life – taking advantage of any opportunities given to me,” said David. “I see coming to Warrane, and coming to uni and being able to study a really interesting and exciting degree – I see that as a massive opportunity.”

One thing’s for sure – the parents of these boys must be proud. It was no surprise that Patrick was quick to mention them as the people who inspire him, because they’d always been there for their sons, and more than willing to drive them around the state for various sporting competitions and academic needs.

“They both put in a big effort…I think I owe a lot of my success to that work ethic that has been instilled in me.”


[Warrane College offers more than just accommodation to students at UNSW: details of other guest speakers are available here]