BCom students making lasting change with new podcast

By Victoria George

Five friends from the BCom and the Faculty of Arts have joined together to create a podcast to inspire young people to make lasting change in the world.

Co-founders Reegan Quick and Asanga Seneviratne, who have just finished their second years of their BCom degrees, were wondering how they could make a tangible difference – and decided to start a podcast ‘Lantern’.

A podcast seemed like a logical place to start with the broader 'Project Lantern', says Reegan, as his co-founder “is a massive podcast nerd”.

Launched in November 2017, the group has already produced four episodes, with interviews ranging from Morgan Koegel, CEO of One Girl, a charity providing girls with education in Africa, to LGBTI advocate and former AFL player Jason Ball.

The idea behind the podcast, explains Quick, is to motivate fellow students who want to make a difference by sharing the stories of other young people already working in the not-for-profit sector.

Project Lantern co-founder Reegan Quick

“We saw ourselves creating a bridge between charities which need support and a bunch of young dedicated people who want to get into that not-for-profit space”, says Quick.

Together with Project Lantern colleagues Naomi Smith (Bachelor of Economics and Politics), Stacey Rachinsky (BCom) and Yaz Naji (Bcom), Quick and Seneviratne have been overwhelmed with the positive response they have had from the people they have reached out to interview.

“Half the time we are just sending cold emails out to general admin emails to people’s websites, and we expect to hear nothing in return – we’re just some new kids on the block, why would they come on the show? But people have been so receptive to helping with the podcast,” says Quick.

For Quick, it’s Koegal’s story which has so far impacted him the most.

“Although her story’s a little bit different to mine personally, I still felt that connection.

“She was a highly successful high school student, moved to Uni, absolutely smashed it, got into the JD (Juris Doctorate Degree at the University of Melbourne), was super successful… and for her to be feeling self-doubt about what she wanted to do for her future kind of made it feel like it’s OK for us to be in that similar situation.”

And with 500 podcast plays so far, Project Lantern is already making an impact.

The message is getting out there a bit, and I hope we are getting youth inspired. Reegan Quick

According to Quick, the podcast is just the first step in a plan to further connect young people to the causes they are passionate about.

“We see the podcast as part of a three-stage process, to create a platform where we can enable and inspire and engage young people to create real social impact,” says Quick.

“Our next step will be trying to create a more formal network, to potentially connect young people with the people we’re interviewing.

“For example if someone watches our podcast and says ‘we would love to speak to Morgan Koegal’, well we can create that informal network.

“Then for us the final step, which is kind of blue sky dreaming, is thinking of trying to create a national network between charitable organisations.

“There are a lot of organisations out there and I feel like some aren’t as good at talking to one another and connecting and collaborating… so, we see ourselves creating a coalition of not-for-profits.

“For example, if one charity is interested in getting a great speaker, and there are five or six charities that all want to get involved, we could help connect them to do that.”

But for Quick, the ultimate podcast would be finding an interviewee with a similar background to him - a scholarship recipient from a low socioeconomic background.

“I went to a low performing high school from a low socioeconomic area. The University of Melbourne has been lovely to support me through scholarship and I’m even staying at Trinity College right now, on scholarship.

I feel like there aren’t many people from that similar background to me, so it would be interesting to speak to some people who have a similar background, who is making change.

Connect with Project Lantern and listen to all podcast episodes on the organisation’s website.