Interview with Rozaine Cooray
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin? Is there anything you especially remember?
I loved studying at Deakin because of the way in which the University actively engaged and supported all individuals to pursue tertiary education. My studies required significant flexibility due to my commitments as an athlete and I received such support and opportunities from the University, for which I am very grateful.
What has been your journey since finishing your course? Briefly outline your career path prior to your current role.
Since completing my PhD I have held a number of research roles including population health researcher at Baker Institute and the National Heart Foundation of Australia, student mental health and wellbeing Research Fellow at a Victorian school, and in 2018 I have returned to Deakin having been awarded an Australian Rotary Health Fellowship to led a research program at the Food and Mood Centre under Professor Felice Jacka.
I also competed with Melbourne Vixens in 2014-15 and NSW Swifts in 2015 in the Aus NZ netball league. In 2017 I crossed codes to AFL Women’s football, competing with Geelong in the Victorian league and with Melbourne FC in the AFLW 2018 season.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
Through my sport and community involvement I have met many young people who experience circumstances outside their control that negatively affects their health outcomes. Meeting these people and seeing their resilience and strength in the face of adversity has inspired me to pursue research in how young people can gain best possible access to achieving optimal mental and physical health, despite any circumstances they may face.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
I always wanted to work in the mental health space as I knew there was so much needed to be done, and that many people are still unfairly suffering due to wide misbeliefs and social stigma. I’ve always loved my sport and health broadly so when there was research opportunity to merge the two I couldn’t help but take that opportunity. As a young person I loved problem solving and acquiring new knowledge, so a career in science was a great option for me.
What advice would you give graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
To expect knock backs and persist in the face of adversity. Setting goals I think is important in any career, and to monitor your own progress and adjust when needed. Celebrate the wins of course!
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
Deakin University has given me the opportunity to pursue my academic studies and a career in science, whilst also pursue professional sport. I have received unwavering support during my studies and professional career and I am extremely grateful for these opportunities. I look forward to giving back to the University community for many years to come.
What are your passions outside your work?
I enjoy reading and watching documentaries of every possible kind.
How would someone describe you?
I am driven when it comes to my values around health, mental health and inequalities broadly, and this is reflected in my passion for my professional career and sport involvement. On the latter I am very competitive and don’t like losing! Someone would probably also comment on my height – I am 194cm!
Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your career?
Don’t be afraid to set your standards and goals high – anyone who doubts you will only fuel your ambition and motivation to succeed.
What’s your favourite website?
The Conversation is a great place for receiving updates on areas of new science in plain, easy to understand language. I am also writing my own blog which is providing a lot of fun at www.erinhoare.com
What is something that amazes you?
Cosmology/the origins and evolution of the universe