Jake Keogh was inspired by the likes of John F Kennedy and Nelson Mandela to give back and help those who need it most. Now he serves as the Mayor of Knox City Council and gives back to his community.
Interview with Jake Keogh
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin? Is there anything you especially remember?
The best way to describe my time at Deakin is, busy. While studying I was undertaking the role of Mayor of Knox City Council, President of my football club, as well as other associated roles such as board positions. The thing that sticks with me about my time at Deakin was the flexibility of the university and the teachers to give me as much time as possible to complete all my roles. The ability to juggle many roles was something that I learned at Deakin.
What has been your journey since finishing your course? Briefly outline your career path prior to your current role.
I have only very recently finished and since then I have continued my role as Mayor of the Knox City Council in a full time capacity.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
I am and always have been a big fan of those that have given back to their community, city, and country through politics. Some of my great heroes are John F Kennedy, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln. They used their political position to inspire others and help those that needed it most. Seeing the positive and lasting change that can be made through politics is something that I have strived to help play a part in.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
I have always been torn between the law and politics (as many budding politicians are). I knew that I wanted to be lawyer when I read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ when I was 13. The way Atticus Finch tried to help someone who had no means of helping himself was something I knew I wanted to do.
A few years later when I was around 15, I started to stumble across JFK and his speeches. I was instantly inspired by the way that he could use his words to uplift people and give them hope at a time when people were struggling for hope. After this and studying some of the other great political leaders and speakers such as Patrick Henry, Cicero, Lincoln, Churchill and others, I loved the way that these individuals could uplift people who were struggling and gave a voice to those who felt voiceless. I knew that if I was lucky enough to ever have the opportunity that I would want to use the political system to do the same.
What advice would you give graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
Nothing can be lost by trying, and not trying through fear of failure is failure by default. Anyone wanting to pursue politics and be in the public domain will face failure, but you have to try. Remember why you are wanting to do what you do and what difference you want to make and hold on to that. Naysayers will come, but you must ignore that and try, so that you can make a difference. Start at a smaller level and work your way up through whatever domain suits you best, be that elected representative at work, leader of a community group or club, or on your local council. You have to start somewhere to get a feel for it and to learn.
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
Flexibility above all else. The flexibility of Deakin has allowed me to pursue different areas and discover who I want to be. To be able to study law and pursue politics and feel that I am making a difference to my community is something I am eternally grateful, I know that it has been rare to have had that opportunity.
What are your passions outside your work?
My footy club. I am the President, a player, a junior committee member and a coach of the under 10s. Most of my weekends are spent at the club and I absolutely love it. Sporting clubs to me are a microcosm of our entire community and I really love the way you can make it a better place and have a positive impact on so many people.
How would someone describe you?
Busy, but smiling.
Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your career?
Be confident in what you believe. Standing by your convictions is the most important thing for anyone in politics. Whether you agree or disagree with someone, having a reason for that belief is all that someone can ask for.
Also remember that you are there to serve the people, not the other way around. Listen and represent everyone, no matter whether it is the biggest thing at that time, or a minor issue. Anyone in an elected position is lucky to be there and is so by the grace of the people.