Michael Patoka

Dean

Having completed my Masters degree at UNSW in Masters of Commerce, helping to open and establish Colombo House from our inaugural year in 2014, has always felt like being at home! As the Dean, it gives me great privilege to welcome new residents to the College and watch them on their journey through  their studies. I have kept in touch with many Alumni from the college, attended graduations and have seen how they enter their early professional careers, all of them remembering their days in Colombo with a rose coloured nostalgia that they will never forget! Over the last 6 years of looking after Colombo we have created many warm traditions and the college continues to create new and exciting initiatives through our leadership and volunteer opportunities. 

I grew up in Sydney so know the city like the back of my hand! It is a beautiful city to explore and experience for our visiting students, both local and international. I love sharing my intimate knowledge of Australia's culture and landscape with our residents and making sure they know the best places to visit in their term breaks! I work closely with our College House Committee to make sure we are delivering the best community-building, inclusive and fun activities to our residents. Colombo House pastoral care team are always there for students needing support, we all live on site and this makes it easier to discuss matters, regardless how simple or complicated they may be. 

Colombo House is my home along with my family; my wife Stephanie and our three children; Matilda, Joshua and Rosy who have all grown up living in the College and consider the college community their extended home. 

It gives me great pleasure to welcome students from all over Australia and the world through our doors. We are a young, thriving college community and are continually working hard to build our respectful and diverse culture. I hope we get the chance to meet you soon!

What is your favourite thing to cook?
Cooking is a huge part of Colombo living! I love cooking for residents and our large Paella is famous for the start and end of College year celebrations.

How do you spend your free time?
I love making the most of our beautiful beaches! I enjoy surfing and watching the sunrise at Maroubra beach, running in Centennial Park or bushwalking in and around Sydney.

What was the highlight of 2020?
My family and I were extremely lucky to have a sabbatical year in 2020, and we travelled around Australia camping in our caravan. We travelled over 40,000 km’s across our vast stunning country. A particular highlight was taking the opportunity of cooking on an open fire, especially being able to cook what we caught ourselves when we fished or caught squid, crabs or foraged for Mussels or pippies.

What music do you like?
I love a broad range of music, and you will always walk past my office with music playing in the background. My office is always open – in fact I always have chocolates or sweets for students to grab when coming by and saying g’day.

What is your favourite event in Colombo every year?
This is a tough question to answer as I love attending all our events. I would have to say O-week as it’s a fabulous time to watch all our new residents meet so many others and quickly change from nervous first time arrivals to settling into our family environment and feeling confident settling into college + University life.

What's your favourite place on-campus at UNSW?
Colombo House obviously! Our rooftop is a great place to head up, do some gardening, have a BBQ or relax and watch the world go by.
 

Shannen Welsh

Deputy Dean

I moved to Sydney from Newcastle in 2016 to study a double degree of Laws and International Studies. I began my journey at UNSW first as a college resident, student fellow and then resident fellow at UNSW Hall. In 2020 I began as the Deputy Dean of Colombo House.

The UNSW Colleges have always felt like home to me and I feel lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to experience so much of what this community has to offer. The highlight of my job here is watching residents thrive as they learn more about themselves and the world. My goal is always to foster the creativity and passion that our residents show in their contributions to the college.

Fun facts about me?

In 2018 I spent a year abroad studying in Guadalajara, Mexico which was an absolute highlight of my university career. In my spare time you’ll find me attempting to maintain my Spanish, travelling, making music or cooking. On the days that I’m not working at Colombo House, I spend my time working in family law.

Resident Assistants and Student Fellows

Resident Assistants (RAs) are assigned to each floor of Colombo House. They’re volunteer senior student leaders whose role is to make sure each and every student has access to any support they may need. The RA team works closely with the SF, Deputy Dean and Dean, ensuring the pastoral care of all residents is of the highest quality.

A Student Fellows (SF) is assigned every year in Colombo House. They’re a volunteer senior student whose role is to create and run a range of proactive wellbeing initiatives for the entire college. The SF works closely with the RA’s, Deputy Dean and Dean, ensuring the wellbeing of all residents is top of mind.

Image of Colombo House Committee 2021