Alex Suwitra was one of two outstanding Deakin students to be awarded the prestigious den Hollander Scholarship in 2014. His strong academic standing and exceptional commitment to his local community made him a stand out candidate for this scholarship. Here, Alex talks about what winning the scholarship has meant for him and his future.
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Alex studied his Bachelor of International Studies at the Geelong Waurn Pounds Campus, majoring in international relations with a sub-major in politics and policy studies.
Throughout his studies, Alex contributed countless hours to the community as a member of the Red Cross Victorian Youth Advisory Committee.
Alex works as a Youth Activities Officer for the City of Greater Geelong and was part of the Geeyoung Project, connecting the Geelong community with its young people.
Q&A with Alex
Considering all the work you’ve done on the community youth strategy for Geelong, what continues to motivate you?
In my current role I work on activities with young refugees across the municipality, mostly soccer programs in the northern suburbs. The Geeyoung Project has allowed young people of all backgrounds from across the Geelong region to have a voice. The fact that the project has the support of two levels of government and the community, especially potential employers during a time when Geelong faces a job crisis, is a testament to the dramatic difference we can make in my local community. I am really motivated by a sense of community which I think is strong in Geelong, and I like to think that my work is helping to ensure that young people are included in our great community.
What part of your Deakin experience did you enjoy the most and why?
When I started studying at Deakin, I was determined to just get through my studies without getting too involved in a social life, other than maybe attending a few parties. Instead I made friendships that I think will last a lifetime. These friendships made study so much easier because it was great to have like-minded people to bounce ideas off, or to speak to when you struggled with something. Alongside this, I think the wealth of knowledge and experience among the teaching staff in my course meant that students got the theoretical knowledge of the course, supported by personal anecdotes. This helped me understand the content and also made classes fascinating.
What would be the message you would give to other students suffering some type of financial or personal disadvantage?
With the right support you can make your plans work − study or otherwise. Deakin provides a great environment where you can achieve your goals, both through the assistance Deakin can give, as well as the friendships you make with like-minded people you get to study with.
How has this scholarship helped you?
Receiving this scholarship has given me the opportunity to go further in my studies than I have previously been able. I haven’t had to stress about my often limited work hours and can spend more time studying and working on assignments. The scholarship also allowed me to purchase a Microsoft tablet, which has meant that I can make better use of my time, such as watching lectures on the train trip to Melbourne. This scholarship has helped me in my studies and also in my personal life. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to achieve to the best of my ability. I cannot thank the supporters enough for providing me with this opportunity to reach my full potential.
What’s next on the horizon for you? What are your future plans and projects?
The next step for me is to get into honours and write a thesis. After that, I will either go straight into a master’s degree in community and international development at Deakin, or I will work for a year or two and then take up the master’s degree. I also want to train and do the Kokoda Trail at some stage.