Nate L’Estrange says his involvement in student groups and the critical thinking skills he gained in lectures at USC have equipped him for his career path as an entrepreneur – and to help others in the middle of a pandemic.
The 30-year-old from Maroochydore is the founder of The Kindness Collective, an initiative that aims to connect people experiencing social isolation and loneliness, to lessen the impact of mental health issues.
“Not long after I graduated from USC, I experienced some really hard life events and was lucky enough to be cared for and supported by my family, as well as the extended family I’d built for myself through the uni outdoor recreation group, USC Activate,” Nate said.
“I had this realisation that not everyone has the good fortune to have that level of love around them when things get tough, so I started thinking about what I could do to pay forward the support I’d received and that’s how The Kindness Collective was born,” he said.
Nate, who also worked as a USC Student Ambassador in the final years of his degree, said in the face of COVID-19 many people are feeling anxious and disconnected.
“While we are being advised not to venture outside of our houses right now, it’s so important to stay connected in the community as much as possible,” he said.
In response to current physical distancing requirements, Nate will be running online game meet-ups based on his recently launched board game developed through The Kindness Collective called ‘Listen Up’.
“The game encourages people to talk about their feelings and aims to create a safe, fun way for little kids through to adults to talk about different emotions,” Nate said.
“Players have to make their way through a range of questions from ‘what would your super-power be?’ through to ‘do the people in your life know how much they mean to you, and how do you show them you care?’,” he said.
“It’s all about being vulnerable and offering a new way to start conversations around mental health. I plan to run the online sessions every week and hope to get people from all over Australia to join the online video chat.”
Nate said he also plans to run online yoga and mindfulness sessions through The Kindness Collective Facebook page in the coming weeks.
“It’s not where I saw myself making a career, but my Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree has absolutely laid the foundations of how I approach these new endeavours. Having that understanding of science helps me think rationally and acknowledge the importance of hard data.
“University study in general also helps you to work in a self-directed way. No-one is pushing you to get a high distinction over a pass, but it comes down to the standard you set for yourself and what you want to achieve.
“That’s totally applicable in the business and start-up sector too. Not every element is fun, but you learn to love the challenges and I often draw on different learning mechanisms that I gained at USC to refocus and take the next step in my work.”