Student Stories

Read about some of our program participant experiences below

2018 PSN Annual Professional Development Evening
Brock Mc Farlane

The Professional Development evening offered to Mentors from the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment (SEBE) focussed on professional networking and provided insight into our futures as graduates. The experience was fantastic!

Read more about the experience from Brock

Held at Deakin Downtown, the evening entailed interesting sessions tailored to Mentors. It was a great motivator and very exciting to see many of the sessions delivered by past SEBE Mentors who talked about their experience transitioning from uni to a professional work environment. As they had only recently graduated, it was brilliant to be able to ask them questions and mingle with them throughout the evening!

Some of my favourite 'takeaways' from the past Mentors were:

  • “Never eat lunch alone”
  • “It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, it only matters where you’re going”
  • “You have your own journey to make”

We were then given time to create our ‘Elevator Pitch’ and practiced it with other attendees. This was very useful to do because I could suggest how others could improve theirs, while also getting constructive feedback on my own pitch.

The last session of the evening was a presentation from Deakin Alumni, Sean Jesudason. He told us of his transition to work, the opportunities he created and took advantage of, and gave us valuable insight into a very aspirational career. The most important take-away from his speech was that even though he had been in the industry for many years, his career is still progressing and taking him to new heights- heights that he never imagined. It was motivational to know that a person with such skills and knowledge could speak with us and impart the feeling that “hey, maybe we aren’t so different after all?”!

After the sessions we were treated to a brilliant dinner and provided with time to network with other Mentors, as well as the guest speakers. The night was a blast and we left motivated and inspired about our futures!

Brock Mc Farlane
Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering

Meet our Mentor
Paola Rivera

Hi, my name’s Paola and I’m about to complete a Bachelor of Biological Science at Deakin University’s Burwood Campus. I have had so much fun making new friends and learning some awesome curiosities about the natural world around us. It has been challenging, involved a lot of hard work and discipline but above all, it has been very rewarding.

Read more about Paola's mentoring experience

Deakin University has given me some great experiences and opportunities to develop and learn new skills. By getting involved in the Peer Support Network Program in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment (SEBE), I have been able to take on roles I never thought I was capable of, and it has also taken me out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing. It has shown me that I can lead meetings, be creative with initiatives and communicate effectively with students from diverse backgrounds.

I highly recommend volunteering. It is a great way to develop new skills, make connections and friends.

It’s also important to look after yourself, do a recreational activity, some exercise and talk to friends to avoid getting overwhelmed, stressed and burned out.

My piece of advice: start assessments early, stay organised, look ahead at what’s to come and lots of chocolate treats along the way!

I wish you all the very best with your studies and future career.

Paola Rivera

Bachelor of Biological Science

2018 National Student Leadership Forum
Raveena Dewage

Leadership is often woven around an individual full of passion, achievements, a great resume and a great a personality, where the skilful individual is driving a group of people to achieve a common goal.

Read more about the experience from Raveena

At the end of the first day of the 4-day National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF), held at Parliament House Canberra , I had to face the most unexpected reality of being a true leader- one who opens up to the world by reflecting on their own faith and values, and welcomes others to question them on these. I had two important realisations: first is what makes a leader is their personal faith and values, and the second, that each and every individual who walks this earth should be appreciated for who they are, as they have their own experiences, which created their identity in this world.

The two key learnings that resonated with me the most at the Forum were the concept of ‘weak and strong friendships’ and ‘servant leadership’. The expression “Keep your circle small and your beer cold” (it is better to have a smaller group of friends who you have a deep and meaningful relationship with, than a large group of friends with a shallow relationship), is something a well-reserved person like myself would adhere to, with no hesitation. Part of the session involved time to reflect on the people in my small circle. During this reflection I realised that we are diverse, and our friendships intentional, purposeful and vitally important as well as strong, even though we have occasional conflicts. People in our lives, especially those we open our hearts to, shape our lives, so it is indispensably important to think about who we invest our time in.

Coming from a country where the parent-child relationship is very strong, I could easily relate to Mr. Jock Cameron’s speech on ‘servant leadership’, as he explained how having children made him a true servant leader and trained him practically to forget his comforts and commit to a life of serving others. I personally believe that the world would be a better place if all leaders where servant leaders, who selflessly served the purpose of the task they initially are embarked upon. A servant leader can start within the smallest unit of society, ‘the family’, and continue to the highest position in a country, while shaping individuals and communities along the way.

The NSLF was the epitome of learning, an experience that left me analysing myself, and was the greatest experience of my student life.

Raveena Ranepura Dewage
Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours)

Meet a past Mentor
Abrar Aziz

Hi, my name is Abrar and I was a mentor in the SEBE Peer Support Network. Meeting new people and making friends with people from all around the world was for me the most enjoyable part about the program.

Read more about Abrar's mentor experience

My role was to help new students feel welcome. In doing so I developed good communication and interpersonal skills. This is now very useful in my work. I am more successful at building strong relationships with my clients due to the skills developed during this opportunity.

If you're contemplating joining the program, do it! This is a one-off opportunity! If you want to build work-ready skills, join this program. You will get to make great friends as a bonus.

My learnings from The National Student Leadership Forum
Sonam Srivastava

On a windy Melbourne morning with assignment stress in the air, I received an email from the SEBE PSN Program Team: ‘Two scholarships available for the National Student Leadership Forum in Canberra’. It wasn’t just an email, but an opportunity to achieve something different.

Read more about the experience from Sonam

I decided to apply for this scholarship, a chance to indulge in an exclusive opportunity to understand oneself better. It is true that if you think yourself to be capable of something, then you should dare to make it happen.

At the 4-day forum, based on servant leadership driven by faith and values, I could feel the essence of learning from the moment I stepped in the room. Two hundred delegates from across Australia and overseas were encouraged into qualitative interactions and networking. One Day 1, at Parliament House, we were addressed by multicultural leaders from a variety of professional backgrounds, who shared their wisdom and extraordinary stories. We were also lucky enough to meet Senator Sen Lucy Gichuhi. On Day 2, we congregated at the War Memorial where we were met by a lone piper for a poppy laying ceremony and where we learnt of the rich history of Australian soldiers. Day 3 consisted of seminars conducted by community service Project Leaders who inspired us to utilise our talents, knowledge and energies to serve others.

The Forum also involved our participation in a wide-range of interactive events and activities, which established the thread of teamwork and an urge to serve others. The forum concluded with a Bush dance, which was a catalyst for building everlasting relationships, social as well as professional.

The National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF) has left an indelible impact on my understanding of the guiding faith and intrinsic values that drive our decision-making throughout life. Sharing our stories taught me to face situations directly from managing success to balancing adversities and disappointments. The seminars and sessions enhanced my perception of authentic leadership capabilities and provided in-depth learning and methods in which we can practice servant leadership.

I would recommend future Mentors and students to explore themselves, to evolve as a ‘servant leader’ and define their confidence and skills. Thinking beyond building a sound resume and focusing on developing a foundation of core resources (faith and values), will assist them in discovering their own unique leadership style. Letting go of pride and ego establishes a defence against self-centredness. Lastly, it is always valuable to participate in interactive platforms like the NSLF, because it acts as source of nourishment to one’s mind.

Sonam Srivastava
Master of Information Technology (Professional)

Moving to Australia from India
Prabhteshwar Singh

Moving to Australia from India has been an amazing experience for me. One of the key differences between India and Australia is the different educational methodologies each country places more emphasis on. India focuses primarily on theory, whereas Australia incorporates a more hands-on approach.

Read more about the experience from Prabhteshwar

Another difference is the expectations of students. The Indian education system is very formal and expects students to put their best foot forward towards study, prioritising it above all else. The Australian education system however has a more flexible approach, which allows students to grow in their own unique way- giving them enough freedom to experiment and learn from their experiences. The development of soft skills is essential, and this is something the Australian education system supports nails.

Culturally, there are many differences between India and Australia. India’s population is large and highly diverse which leads to a higher sense of competition and a much more intense environment. Australian culture on the other hand, is calmer and not as competitive.

One of the biggest things I have learned since moving to Australia has been how much communicating and talking can help. Most of us new students feel out of place after moving to a different country and find it hard to open up. Problems can seem big and unsolvable and can build a lot of mental pressure. I’ve often found that just talking to other people, be it students or staff, helps a lot as you realise that you’re not the only one who has these problems, or the solutions are simple. I personally recommend the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment (SEBE) Peer Support Network Program, where new students can get the help of experienced students who have been through similar things and know where to go for support and assistance.

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