Jan Drew made full use of her university experience by making lifelong friends and going on an exchange to Thailand. She has since worked as an international student adviser and relocated to Kuala Lumpur.
Career path and highlights
My 30-year-old daughter is without a doubt a life highlight, but the time in Thailand, and more recently, my role as Regional Director for Singapore and Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, have challenged me and helped me grow in a diversity of ways.
Five years ago I left the University, but remained in Malaysia where I set up a business providing international study experiences for Australian university students. While a huge challenge professionally and personally, The Global Student now has three full-time staff, a couple of part time staff, and we work with 12 Australian universities.
Q&A with Jan Drew
What were some of the memorable experiences you had at Deakin?
I loved the whole Rusden experience, it was transformative socially, intellectually and academically, even as a mature-age student: the lunches in the cafe, the tutorials, and the student association. I made friends that I still keep in touch with. The academic staff were amazing, approachable and supportive. Many of these became my colleagues when I became a Deakin staff member, based at Burwood. I still keep in touch with some of them also, and even undertake projects with a few. One of my most memorable experiences was when our lecturer asked our class why no student had applied for the very generous UMAP funding to go on exchange to Thailand. I had imposed a number of restrictions on my eligibility for the grant, but when Simon Wilmot (who is still a staff member) broke each of these down, and suggested I take my 8-year-old daughter with me, life as I knew it changed forever.
Did you learn anything from your Deakin studies to take directly to the workforce?
I never became a school teacher, however, I did become an international student adviser, and this was a direct result of the semester spent at Bangkok University in Thailand. Many of the international students I had the good fortune to meet and help look after remain my friends today and they, in fact, looked after me when I relocated to Kuala Lumpur in 2007. So I guess it wasn’t so much what I learnt from my studies, but what I learnt from engaging with the entire academic experience. That semester in Thailand is the reason I am where I am today.
Can you give any advice to our current students?
My advice is to not get bogged down in the degree, but rather engage with the experience. Keep your options open and be brave enough to recognise opportunities when they present, and act on them. Fear is what paralyses people and stops them from achieving their goals. If you have a goal, you must believe in it, and do something every day towards achieving it. And above all – do something you are passionate about – life is too short to drag yourself each day into a job you don’t enjoy!