Our mentors

Mentoring with a difference

We run programs led by current students from all walks of life. Our mentors are passionate about helping young people see university as an achievable goal by sharing their own lived experiences and pathways to study.

Building confidence in young people

Secondary school students can feel like there are just too many barriers in the way of them finishing school or reaching university. The Deakin Engagement and Access Program (DEAP) mentoring program connects young people with current students, to highlight how attainable and rewarding further study can be.

Mentors of DEAP (MoD), who are current Deakin students, often come from a DEAP partnership secondary school, which allows them to develop a deep connection with students in the program and highlight the many different pathways to university, or they may have simply benefited from the good advice of a mentor as they navigated their further study options in high school.

With the support of our mentor community, and the DEAP team, mentors lead outreach activities with secondary school students from equity groups that are traditionally under-represented, including regional, rural, low socio-economic status (SES) and Indigenous students.

Mentors share their experience

Mentors share their experience

Hear from our Mentors of DEAP (MoD) about their experiences working as student mentors for the Deakin Engagement and Access Program.

Join the MoD squad

We're looking for new mentors to join our team. If you have a genuine interest in working with young people from diverse backgrounds, a mentor role could be just for you. Applications open in early 2023, check back for more information.

Why work as a MoD

Becoming a Mentor of DEAP (MoD) is more than a job while at uni. Supported by the DEAP team, you'll be able to make an impact on the lives of secondary school students by sharing your story to instil confidence that they too can achieve their goals.

By joining the program, you'll:

  • be part of a connected community to nurture a sense of belonging
  • enhance your study experience by participating in campus engagement opportunities
  • access financial assistance through on-campus employment
  • enhance your employability skills by co-designing and leading workshops
  • develop graduate employability outcomes through work experience and professional opportunities.

Meet our alumni

Each and every one of our mentors have inspiring journeys that begin well before they join the team. Some mentors even experience our program as high school students, then join us as mentors. Learn about their experiences and achievements to date.

Joining the DEAP team was an easy decision as I was passionate about sharing my pathway to inspire and encourage others. I really enjoyed my time in the MoD squad. I loved meeting with students and encouraging them to pursue their dreams, and I also made some wonderful friends.

Ali Calafiore

Bachelor of Arts (Professional and Creative Writing) Honours graduate | Freelance editor

Learn about Ali's experience

Ali is currently working as a self-employed freelance editor for social media clients in Australia, New Zealand and the US. She is also working on creating her first narrative game, The Marvellous Phantasma: The Heist of the Sapphire Butterfly.

'I received a low ATAR and didn't get the entry score required to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Professional and Creative Writing). I was very upset, but instead of giving up on my dreams, I asked around Deakin to see if I could find another pathway. I was told about the associate degree program, which was a wonderful introduction to how university worked. It taught me how to write essays, how to reference and cite my sources, and how to navigate the Deakin library. I did so well that after a year I transferred into the professional and creative writing degree. From there I graduated with distinction and went on to do a postgraduate honours degree.

Before DEAP, I was terrified of speaking with strangers, never mind a crowd of people. Without the program, I wouldn’t be nearly as confident as I am now. The self-esteem, leadership and active listening skills I gained from being a MoD still help me when I speak with clients in my editing job.'

Ali's advice for young people?
'Don't give up if you first fail, keep on looking for alternative ways to get where you want to be and eventually you will find one that works in your favour.'

I joined the DEAP team after hearing about the MoD role from other mentors. I knew this program would help me improve many skills and help me gain new ones, but what I didn’t know was that it would become the best job I’ve ever had.

Rakshit Jain

Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) graduate | Technical Officer, School of Health and Engineering, Latrobe University Bendigo

Learn about Rakshit's experience

Rakshit came to Australia in 2017 as an international student from India. After graduating from his engineering degree, Rakshit gained full-time employment in Bendigo as a Technical Officer in the School of Health and Engineering at LaTrobe University. Rakshit is interested in all things related to AI, IoT and robotics.

'I joined Deakin the same year I finished high school. One of the major challenges to studying abroad was the financial implications. I was fortunate enough, however, to attain a scholarship.

The DEAP community was filled with interesting, kind and like-minded people. Every program I ever presented, left me with a smile and the satisfaction of working for something other than money. It also helped me understand more about the Australian community in general.

As a MoD, I developed many skills that were important to my success at university and helped me land a job. I received a Hallmark for Leadership from Deakin and most of the credit for my development as a leader can be attributed to DEAP. This job helped with my confidence, public speaking and overall made me a better person. I also happened to make some lifelong friends along the way.'

Rakshit's advice for young people?
'Understand that life is not a race. Take time to understand who you are, what makes you happy and, most importantly, find out how can you help people. If you don’t know what to do in life, attempt the hardest thing you can find, as this will help you build character. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Work hard and everything will work out for you.'

Being in the MoD squad defined my time at university. It made me more aware of inequality and the chances to make the world a more equitable and inclusive experience for everyone. I can say with all certainty I wouldn't be who I am today without my experience as a MoD.

Erica Adams

Bachelor of Criminology graduate | Learning and Engagement Officer at Department of Transport

Learn about Erica's experience

Since graduating in 2021, Erica secured a position with the Department of Transport working on the North East Link Project as a Learning & Engagement Officer. Through her position, Erica helps create pathways for people with marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds to gain employment.

'I struggled a lot with mental health issues during high school and because of this, I did not complete VCE. Instead, I chose to start an apprenticeship and work as a waitress. When I made the decision to go to university, it was more challenging as I didn't have any qualifications. Applying straight away was not an option. I either needed to complete a different form of education or wait until I was a mature-age student. I chose the latter. However, this came with its own struggles. I wasn't conditioned to studying, I had never written an essay and I lived out of home and needed to work. None of these things prevented me from applying, but it was a more difficult experience than if I had entered straight from high school.

My motivation to join the DEAP team was initially money. This motivation very quickly changed once I gained an appreciation for what DEAP was trying to achieve. The best way I can explain how my motivation changed is by the words I frequently would say, 'I feel guilty getting paid' because as much as I put into the role, I felt like I got more back. I couldn't ask for more than giving back to the community while learning valuable skills myself. Being in the MoD squad defined my entire time at university. I learnt so much about myself, to such an extent that it altered what I studied and where I took my career. It made me more aware of inequality and chances for making the world a more equitable and inclusive experience for everyone. I can say with all certainty I wouldn't be who I am today without my experience as a MoD.'

Erica's advice for young people?
'Take risks and don't be afraid of being different. There are so many opportunities out there, and they will be there for the rest of your life. Take those risks that will make you happy and bring joy to your life.'

I loved every minute of working in the MoD squad! It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people from various faculties that were all passionate about the same things that I was. I had always been quite a shy person and preferred to do things on my own. The MoD role helped me to develop my teamwork and communication skills, and how to work with and trust others. These skills have led to success in my career.

Brittany Verity

Bachelor of Forensic Science, Master of Teaching graduate | High school teacher

Learn about Brittany's experience

Brittany is currently in her fourth year of teaching in a secondary school. She was recently promoted to the role of Leader of Science and STEM. 'I completed VCE at a Catholic College in South Gippsland. Being at a rural school, subject choices were limited, and it was difficult to find information about careers, other than what was present in the community. On the flip side, it was wonderful to complete VCE in such a close-knit community, as everyone looked out for everyone, resulting in me receiving a scholarship to attend university due to academic achievement.

I was looking for an opportunity to work with students when I came across the DEAP role. I knew it was perfect for me because I have always been very passionate about providing young people with all the information they need, to make an informed career choice, an opportunity that was lacking when I was in high school.

After experiencing such a positive and safe environment within the DEAP workplace, I now emulate this in my own work so that students and staff know that they are always safe and included by me.'

Brittany's advice for young people?
'Don't be afraid to try something new because you may find that it will change your life!'

Contact us

For further information about DEAP, or any of our programs and activities, please get in touch.

Email the DEAP team