Mildura lecturer in top ten
Australia he’s in your top ten! He sings plays guitar and teaches from afar, Mildura resident and La Trobe lecturer Dr Petrus Usmanij’s recent nomination as one of La Trobe’s ‘Top 10 lecturers’ is managing to prove what we already know- that academics in the bush are just as good as their city counterparts.
Of nearly 3000 La Trobe University academics, it is the Mildura based Dr Petrus that was nominated by students and fellow teachers as one of La Trobe’s best lecturers, a result that sees him in the running for the annual ‘Lecturer of the Year’ competition - a remarkable achievement considering the Mildura campus is home to only 30 lecturers.
The Indonesian expatriate and former La Trobe student recently polled a place in the prestigious Australia-wide university competition. The nomination caps an impressive rise for Dr Petrus who came to Australia in 2000 after completing his Bachelor of Accounting degree in Indonesia. Nine years, and many challenges later Dr Petrus is fast becoming one of Mildura’s most revered academics and definitely the town’s most famous Indonesian import.
While learning to read, write and speak English proved as tough as his PhD, Dr Petrus managed to complete his post graduate studies in accounting before being offered a full-time role at La Trobe’s regional Mildura campus. Finishing his career as a student and part-time research assistant was just one small step for the self confessed music lover.
‘At first, it wasn’t easy for me to live in Australia, I found it a little tricky making friends and breaking through the cultural barrier.’ Still, his passion for song and a partnership with Mildura’s Filipino community led not only to helping Dr Petrus feel at home on the Murray but also led to the development of a community singing group, that performs annually during Mildura’s multicultural Christmas celebration, allowing Dr .Petrus the opportunity to stretch his vocal cords every now and then outside of university hours.
Still, his focus remains on his own research and his role as a lecturer, one he sees as extremely important for the future of his pupils and a position that was obviously influenced by his own experiences as a student.
‘I was continually encouraged by my own teachers,’ he reports, explaining that many of his own teachers became ‘inspiring mentors,’ lending to his own philosophy of encouragement, passion and hard work.
He maintains though that although his accounting tutorials are not quite the place for a little a cappella, he admits to having sung a song or two to his Indonesian students. ‘My mother told me I was a happy child and have been singing since the age of four,’ he says.
So for those in Mildura and Dr Petrus himself, let’s hope he is singing all the way to the title of Australian ‘Lecturer of the Year’ in 2010.
The ‘Lecturer of the Year’ award is run by unijobs.com and the winner will be announced later in the year.
Petrus Antonius Usmanij
PhD La Trobe, Postgraduate Diploma in Accountancy La Trobe, Diploma of Accounting Universitas Indonesia, Certified Management Accountant The Institute of Certified Management Accountants Australia
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