La Trobe Student Excellence Academy students Jason Yu and Heman Panidapu Narayana Swamy were showcased at State Parliament of Victoria as part of Thomastown youth exhibition. They caught up with MyLaTrobe to talk about their experience.
Why did you get selected for the Parliament House event?
I believe that although some may not share the same degree of hardships I have, many will be able to relate to my core message of hard work paying off and that persistence through adversity will only make you stronger.Jason Yu
Jason: I was selected after I nominated myself for an interview through the Excellence Academy. In general I always believed that my ability to contribute to the community was limited at my current age and position as a student and I felt that this was a good opportunity to hopefully give back and inspire others of my own personal journey. I believe that although some may not share the same degree of hardships I have, many will be able to relate to my core message of hard work paying off and that persistence through adversity will only make you stronger.
Heman: I was selected for the Thomastown youth exhibition in recognition of my academic excellence and my constant efforts to educate people to help them make wiser financial decisions. During my time in Australia, I’ve defied all the odds an International student has to face like homesickness, working and tackling a difficult degree to be the highest achieving student in my degree.
I want to inspire and motivate my fellow international students through my achievements and knowledge to help them realise their potential. I want them to believe that if you have faith in yourself, nothing is impossible especially when you’re staying alone in a foreign country thousands of miles away from your family. And also I’m very concerned about climate change and its consequences on humanity. Youth have a more significant role to play in issues like this. I believe this endeavour of mine helped me to get selected for the Parliament House event.
How did it feel to be selected for the event at Parliament House?
Heman: I felt delighted. I came to Australia about a year ago. I didn’t know anyone except my relatives. I had no friends either, but one year down the line my poster is exhibited in the Victorian parliament alongside my fellow young contributors, and visited by Premier of Victoria. The feeling is just inexplicable.
Jason: I felt pretty honored to have been showcased at the exhibition. Although it was a bit embarrassing to have a photo of myself on display, I felt content that I was leaving a positive impact on our community.
Can you tell us about being part of the La Trobe Student Excellence Academy?
Heman: I received the offer to join the La Trobe Student Excellence Academy early this year as I was the highest achieving student in my degree and have been a part of it since then. I had the opportunity to attend various seminars delivered by Industry leaders and professionals, leadership insights program, networking events and workshops that focus on both professional and personal development of the students within the Academy. These events help students to be future leaders in whatever career they pursue. I also got to know many wonderful people through the Academy and built strong relationships with them which I’ll cherish forever. I can say that one won’t be the same person he/she used to be after joining the Student Excellence Academy.
I had the opportunity to attend various seminars delivered by Industry leaders and professionals, leadership insights program, networking events and workshops that focus on both professional and personal development of the students within the Academy.Heman Panidapu Narayana Swamy
Jason: Being part of the La Trobe Student Excellence Academy was been a great experience so far. Although I have not been able to participate as much as I would have liked, the experiences and opportunities I have received so far have been well worth my while. Be it finding out this opportunity through the excellence academy and being able to meet the Vice-Chancellor John Dewar over lunch, the Excellence Academy has greatly broadened my horizons over the last year.
What is your favourite thing about studying at La Trobe?
My favourite thing about studying at La Trobe is just how much the university actually attempts to help and understand students.Jason Yu
Jason: My favourite thing about studying at La Trobe is just how much the University actually attempts to help and understand students. From my past experiences of studying at another university in Melbourne, the atmosphere could not be more different. During my time at the other university I felt helpless and lost, it appeared to me the university was more concerned about reputation and revenue that genuinely teaching their students.
One prime difference I noticed was in my Computer Science subjects, when submitting an assignment you only received a grade and minimal feedback. This is contrasted with my experiences at La Trobe where they mark your assignment face-to face-with a demonstrator and they assist you directly in any areas you struggled with the assignment. Another experience I would like to share was when I had an unfortunate disruption on the family side of my matters and was unable to attend one of my exams last Semester. After emailing and speaking to my coordinator over the phone, the staff were so understanding and helpful in trying to grant me Special Consideration. This experience left a profound impact on me and made me truly believe that the University valued me as a student.
Heman: I enjoy the diversity on the campus. You get to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures every single day. There are a lot of free events happening on campus throughout the semester. There’s always help available in the University whenever you’re stuck with the assignments or in life, be it academically, financially, legally or suffering from any mental health issues. There are also many resources available like Career Ready which aim to help the professional growth of the students. For night owls, some labs are open round the clock to study and the library is open 24 hours during the exams period.
Are there any highlights of your course so far?
Heman: I’m currently pursuing a Master of Engineering (Manufacturing). The thing I love the most about my course is that it enables me to see engineering from a business context. Apart from traditional engineering methods, this course imparts on me the knowledge to deliver sustainable, creative solutions to complex technical problems.
Another unique attribute about the course is that in my third semester, I have to undertake an 800 hour work placement (EMS5WIL) with an industry partner. I’m currently undertaking Work Integrated Learning at GE Silos, a company 150 km away from Melbourne. This program is an endeavour to bridge the gap between the theoretical knowledge I learnt and its practical implementation to solve a challenging industrial problem.
I have to undertake an 800 hour work placement (EMS5WIL) with an Industry partner. I’m currently undertaking Work Integrated Learning at GE Silos, a company 150 km away from Melbourne.
Jason: My main highlight of my course so far has been the amazing opportunity I have been granted to be personally mentored by the Vice-Chancellors Fellow James Fazzino. James has helped me immensely in plotting my career plan and his insight so far has been invaluable. I’m honored that a person of his calibre is willing to set some time apart in his schedule to meet with me on a regular basis despite his countless other responsibilities. I still find it a bit surreal seeing his picture in front of the library every time I’m at University and knowing that he’s my mentor.
What are you hoping to do in the future once you have your degree?
Jason: I am hoping to enter the workforce as soon as I graduate through a grad position, ideally. My dream is to become a financial analyst at PWC, the top financial firm in Australia and maybe one day climb the corporate ladder to become CEO (in my dreams – haha). I have thought about continuing my studies further into a Masters degree, but I believe that real world experience will be the best way for me to grow and improve as a person.
My dream is to become a financial analyst at PWC, the top financial firm in Australia and maybe one day climb the corporate ladder to become CEO (in my dreams – haha).
Heman: After graduation, I want to pursue a career in Engineering. I want to use the knowledge I gained through my Bachelors and Masters degrees to design and develop effective and competent solutions to real-world problems. I will also continue financially educating the people around me.
What advice do you have for fellow students?
Heman: My advice is especially to my fellow International students. I know what it feels like staying all alone in a foreign country while carrying the burden of people’s expectations. The pressure upon us is tremendous, but no matter what you have to endure, always have faith in yourself. Never lose hope, and remember there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Make the most out of your stay in Australia as an International student. Have fun, hang out and study hard.
Never lose hope, and remember there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Make the most out of your stay in Australia as an International student. Have fun, hang out and study hard.Heman Panidapu Narayana Swamy
Jason: From my own experiences, I would like to tell fellow students to not be afraid to take a leap of faith, especially if they are not enjoying their degree. I personally feel as if many students like myself in the past have fallen for the paradox of choice. In this day and age, students have the privilege and opportunity to pursue a degree and career in almost anything their heart desires. But this can be a double-edged sword where the sheer amount of options available can stun a student and leave them confused and indecisive in their future. From experience, nothing is worse than working your heart out for a career you do not truly desire and it can be heart-wrenching when you discover that fact when is all too late.