Tasneem Chopra

In her own words (adapted from her Living History interview)

Hi. I’m Tasneem Chopra. I’m a cross-cultural consultant and a La Trobe University graduate of 2012.

I grew up in country Victoria. I grew up in Bendigo when diversity was just being slightly off colour with your skin. It was never political. It was certainly not based on any religious bigotry.

I’ve gone from being something exotic and different to being something that people should be scared of. If I then have the ability to address that through conversations or public speaking or workshops, working in schools, which I love to do, then I think it’s incumbent on me to do it.

I want to take it to the next level, and for me that was to take the skills and the learnings that I had and elevate myself to an international praxis so that I could use them in another setting.

One of the reasons I chose my Masters in international development was specifically because of the reputation that I believed La Trobe had in assisting me get the skills I needed to engage that level.

I returned to post-graduate study after 20 years. Everything was new; from the fact that lectures were podcast to having digital notes. I guess having children who are quite tech-savvy helped me a lot.

I really enjoyed being in a position where I could absorb knowledge as opposed to being one that was having to impart it. For me that was a critical relief, but it was also an opportunity to further my own knowledge base, which, I felt was really waning at the time.

I never knew the Agora existed, and I always thought it was just a mass of concrete buildings. To be quite honest, I thought it was quite soulless until I actually attended and I discovered there was this hub literally in the centre. It made me feel very comfortable. There was a soul and a heart to this University, a beating heart.

This reflects what I understand to be the reality of the community that is La Trobe. Part of the appeal is that when young people from diverse communities go and they have a positive experience, they feed that back and it creates a domino effect.

I want to see diverse lecturers. I want to see diverse tutors. I want to see diverse management. I want to see more female Vice Chancellors. I think diversity has to be something that we embrace not to be tokenistic and to tick a box, but because it’s the decent thing to do.

I’m a big believer in giving a voice to the voiceless and empowering women with agencies and tools so they can self-represent and not constantly be represented by somebody else.