Volunteer Profiles

Read what past and present Connect Volunteers have to say about their involvement and get a taste of what you could experience.

Vincent Dao, Bachelor of Bio Medical Science, Melbourne

Why did you decide to join the Connect Volunteer Program?

I knew from an early age that I did not know what I wanted to do when I graduated from my degree, Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences. I was curious about the factors that affect successful orientation, transition and engagement for all students at La Trobe University. When I was in my second year and I found out about the Connect Volunteer Program, I signed up. I was fortunate that the La Trobe University had a well‐developed volunteer program, and an institutional culture that believed in utilising volunteers to their fullest and treating them like true staff members.

What is the best part about being a Volunteer?

I get a lot out of volunteering, but friendship and being able to pass on the knowledge and skills that I have attained over the years are some of the bigger ones. Also, I love the fact that no Orientation is ever the same, which keeps it really interesting and challenging and at the end of the day, every time I participate it’s really satisfying to know that I’ve helped someone out when they've been having a rough time. I know that in my own little way I am making a difference. I have also met some amazing people who I am very fortunate to call friends.

What are some of the valuable skills and experiences you have gained from being a part of the Connect Volunteer Program?

I realised that I liked working with volunteers and staff, whose diversity reflects the general demographic on campus. By putting my hand up to help for every opportunity, and my passion about easing the students transition journey, I was recognised and awarded the Outstanding Connect Mentor Volunteer award for my initiative and most importantly, I was promoted by Student Engagement to be a Connect Leader  the following year (2015).

Now, I am employed at La Trobe University in a full‐time position with increasing responsibility coordinating the Connect Volunteer Program. Because of what I got to do as Connect Volunteer, and who I get to work with, I have remained excited about my current position, and the never ending student-facing experience.

Isabella Tucman, Bachelor of Law/ Bachelor of Arts, Melbourne

Why did you decide to join the Connect Volunteer Program:

I joined the Connect Volunteer Program as I thought it was an excellent opportunity to get involved in the university community and to meet new students, especially those from other study areas who I otherwise might not have met.

The best part of being a volunteer:

The best part of being a volunteer was being in a position in which I could actively help new students out and be the person I wished I had when I was starting university. It was great becoming a friendly face around university who students could come up to and ask for help!

Valuable skills and experiences:

The most valuable experience to me was building my confidence through continually meeting and interacting with new people. It was a great way for me to come out of my shell a bit and gain invaluable interpersonal skills. This opportunity was also a great platform for me to develop and improve my communication skills as I was interacting with students from diverse nationalities and backgrounds. I was able to learn so much from different students and the Connect Volunteers and Leaders as well, in relation to their experiences, interests and stories.

Fahim Salauddin, Master of Telecommunication and Network Engineering, Melbourne

Why did you decide to join the Connect Volunteer Program?

The Connect Volunteer Program is a unique peer-to-peer volunteering program that helps new students to achieve a smooth transition to university life. I still remember the day when the Connect Volunteers during my orientation week gave me valuable insights, which later helped me immensely. So, when it came to apply for the Connect Volunteer Program myself, it was a no-brainer for me. I was excited to provide positive impact on the new students by engaging in various peer-to-peer activities with them. Also, I was looking forward to making a plethora of new friends during Orientation and to establish a professional network with them as well as with the inspiring La Trobe staff as well.

What is the best part about being a Volunteer?

The best part about being a volunteer is that you get to meet a whole bunch of new people and make lifelong friends who inspire you and share similar interests.  For instance I met Henry, another fellow connect volunteer who is a big fan of bass guitar just like me. You get to introduce and represent La Trobe to new students and highlight some of the outstanding features that this marvellous university has to offer. Also, gaining valuable volunteering credit hour is a plus for any CV.

What are some of the valuable skills and experiences you have gained from being a part of the Connect Volunteer Program?

I think for me the most valuable skill that I achieved being part of the Connect Volunteer Program was in the domains of teamwork. Checkpoint Leaders along with the Connect Volunteers worked in unison, taking new students to campus tours and other exciting Orientation activities. It gave me valuable insight into how to work in a collaborative fashion and solving problems on the go. As part of the mature-age student demographic, I spoke with a number of mature age students during a special session. This helped me a lot to build my confidence in public speaking. Also the extensive professional training that I received as a part of the Connect Volunteer Program was truly outstanding.

Su Htet Zaw, Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Melbourne

Why did you decide to join the Connect Volunteer Program?

During my first year Orientation many Connect Volunteers helped ease our concerns and settle in at La Trobe, and I was impressed by their awesome contribution. Thus, I really appreciate their commitment, support and enthusiasm. I decided to join the Connect Volunteer Program because of this awesome feeling. Moreover, I also wanted to share all of my precious and sweet La Trobe student experiences.

What is the best part about being a Volunteer?

Having an awesome feeling that you are always there for new students to help and ease their concerns. Wearing a respective course volunteer T-shirt and having a chance to volunteer at my course orientation session, also gives me a fantastic feeling. The unforgettable memory that I got from the Connect Volunteer Program is getting many new friends and having a chance to get to know awesome Connect Leaders. Every part in the Connect Volunteer Program is the best part for me!!

What are some of the valuable skills and experiences you have gained from being a part of the Connect Volunteer Program?

I have gained a better understanding of campus services, effective communication and leadership skills, increased self-esteem and self-confidence from the Connect Volunteer Program. The valuable and unexpected experience that I have gained from the Connect Volunteer Program is getting a good impression from my lecturers because they were really glad and surprised when they saw me with an Education Connect Volunteer T-shirt during an Education Orientation session.

Luke Goss, Master of Biotechnology Management, Melbourne

Why did you decide to join the Connect Volunteer Program?

I thought that this would be an awesome opportunity to get to meet new people and help out first years to settle into the university! When I first started at La Trobe in 2014, the O-week program was very small and I didn't partake in much of it, I wanted to join in the Connect Volunteer Program in aims of making it a better experience than I had (not to say it was bad).

What is the best part about being a Volunteer?

The best part about being a volunteer for me was meeting all these new people and becoming really good friends with the other volunteers. I personally believe that our volunteering checkpoint was the most fun and had the greatest team, as I can happily call everyone from that checkpoint good friends.

What are some of the valuable skills and experiences you have gained from being a part of the Connect Volunteer Program?

From the Connect Volunteer Program, I have gained the skills of being able to work efficiently and effectively in a team in regards to crowd management and public speaking. These skills will help further me as a person and into my career life. As for experiences, I think that the whole program was an experience that I will never forget, from the training beforehand to the "acquiring" of gourmet food from the other college's morning tea and right through to the last day where we played an impromptu game of cricket with a large amount of volunteers and paid staff. It was definitely one of the best experiences in my life.

Sarah Langley, Bachelor of Human Services and Master of Social Work, Bendigo

Why did you decide to join the Connect Volunteer Program?

I had previously undertaken small volunteer roles in different areas of the university, but the Connect program seemed like a great way to get further involved and contribute to the program that helped me when I first began my course. I was also quite keen to meet some new people and add something different to my own university experience!

What is the best part about being a Volunteer?

The sense of community and belonging within the Connect team is something that I really enjoy. Each of the volunteers have a great story to tell, a passion for their chosen field and so much knowledge to give to new students, so having had the chance to work alongside them has been an experience that I am very thankful for. There is also a great level of satisfaction knowing that I’ve been a part of something that makes a real difference for new students.

What are some of the valuable skills and experiences you have gained from being part of the Connect Volunteer Program?

I am grateful to the Connect program for helping me develop better interpersonal and leadership skills, which has since helped me on the path towards a leadership award and other exciting opportunities within the university. One of my favourite experiences has been meeting first year students beginning social work, being able to share my experiences in the course and help them begin their journey.

Quoc Huy Tran, Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, Bendigo

Why did you decide to join the Connect Volunteer Program?

I understand how difficult it could be for new students to make their own transition into university so I wanted to be one of the people who are willing to give them a hand. The program was also a great opportunity for me to expand my social networks and gain more hands-on experiences by working with students from different backgrounds.

What is the best part about being a volunteer?

It was absolutely amazing to promote a welcoming atmosphere at university so that new students can feel that they are part of a supportive and friendly community. I also had a chance to learn about a wide range of cultural beliefs and practices from international students. The program also helped me become more aware of different services available for students on campus, which I find very helpful.

What are some of the valuable skills and experiences you have gained from being part of the Connect Volunteer Program?

I really appreciate that I could enhance my communication and interpersonal skills through my participation in the program. I have learned how to overcome my shyness to initiate a decent conversation with other students and enhanced my problem-solving skills. One of the most rewarding experiences I had was to be able to instill my passion for teaching into new students.

Joan Lord, Bachelor of Education, Mildura

Why did you decide to join the Connect Volunteer Program?

I decided to join the Connect Volunteer Program because I wanted to make a difference, in at least one student’s experience of orientation.  When I started my first year at University, I started late and missed the first week including orientation.  I felt really left out and alone and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that way.  Orientation can be overwhelming, being swamped with so much information in a short period of time.   I was able to tell the new students that it is totally OK to feel overwhelmed and that they would feel better once they settled into their first couple of weeks.

What is the best part about being a Volunteer?

The best part is talking to new students and seeing how excited they are at starting a new journey in their life, reassuring them that the workload is manageable and then catching up with them on campus during their first week or two and finding how they are going with their course.  I love talking to the mature aged students as well and passing on some tips that helped me through my first year.

What are some of the valuable skills and experiences you have gained from being a part of the Connect Volunteer Program?

It was great to meet and collaborate with other students, across different degrees and year of study. I now catch up with my fellow Connect Leaders and Volunteers for a chat about our separate degrees as we have formed a bond from participating in this program.  I also feel more connected with the University now than I did in my first year. Challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone allowed me to feel part of a much bigger community.  I love being able to help others, even in some small way.  It is a great feeling to be of assistance to someone and I know many of the new students really appreciate how friendly and accommodating the Connect Volunteers are.