This is another of our occasional articles that track down some of our alumni and see their progress through life and their careers.

by Lillian Leptos

It took a gap year for WRSC alumnus Lucas Arena to truly discover his passion and his vocation. When he graduated from WRSC in 2018, his family steered him into the familiar course of a carpentry career. So many members of his family had gone down the trade and TAFE path that Lucas felt it would inevitably be his destiny too. Another lure was that his family told him, “it pays well”. But it didn’t take long for Lucas to discover that his heart was not in this trade. He hated the work and hated turning up onsite each day.
A gap year and a trip to Japan with school mate Deyan Piculovski allowed him to dream large. Lucas had always wanted to travel. He wanted to see what the world has to offer. He wanted the challenge of the unfamiliar, and travelling through Japan opened his eyes to what was possible. With not a word of Japanese to rely on, communication was “challenging”, he says.
“It was all so different. I got lost so often and the train stations were particularly challenging.”
But the Japanese people were uniformly polite and helpful and with each day his confidence grew. He vividly remembers launching forth by himself when Deyan was feeling unwell and resting.
“I was determined to explore, but my phone was rapidly discharging and I was actually down to the last 1% before we found each other,” he recalls.
The boys travelled the length and breadth of Japan and the experience left them with an enduring love of the country and a strong desire to return.
On his return to Australia, Lucas made a brave choice. He had always loved photography and had fooled around taking photos and making short movies. He took the plunge and applied to the photography course at RMIT University. His folio relied strongly on his Instagram shots, and here his travel photography was a great asset. He included a range of images, including some haunting ones he had taken at Hiroshima. RMIT was also impressed by the fact that this was a mature choice by Lucas and not simply some pie in the sky post Year 12 idea. It was an amazing day when he received the message that he had been offered a place.
Life seemed to change from monochrome to full spectrum colour for Lucas.
“These days I’m so excited about the 6am starts,” he enthuses. ”I’m going to a place I love, to do things that I find so exciting.”
His family, at first a little apprehensive about his future, could see how happy he was and were happy to support him in pursuing his dream.
“They are proud when they see me pursuing my goals and carving out a career,” he says.
Lucas began with a one-year certificate course, but then progressed to a Bachelor degree. He is on track to graduate in 2022. He is already formulating plans to undertake postgraduate studies in Media at the University of Osaka.
After that who knows, he may even seek out job opportunities in Japan, possibly in the area of fashion photography. He has already investigated the employment market and is confident that there is a rising market for good photographers there.
For Lucas, his time at WRSC was an enjoyable experience. He had good times and found good friends, but his life has really blossomed now that he has a clearer vision of his future.