Finishing the familiar to start something new

Genna sitting next to her lecturer

Whether you’ve recently finished high school or you’ve just graduated from uni, stepping away from your familiar routine can be a little daunting.

But if you can draw on the experiences you gather along the way, your contribution might turn out to be bigger than you ever expected.

“I can’t believe I’m graduating! I’m really going to miss this place and all the people who’ve helped me though.”

As a student in our class of 2018, Genna experienced a summer graduation ceremony that transformed Bush Court into a balmy hub of excitement. In amongst the selfies, happy tears and warm hugs of celebration, there’s an undercurrent of proud sentiment – all their hard work over the last few years has resulted in a night of celebrations and excitement over the careers they’re about to embark on.

For many though, there’s also a tinge of sadness that this important chapter of their life – the one where they make lifelong friends and hilarious memories, while challenging and stretching themselves – comes to a close. 

For Genna, her graduation day meant she feels more ready than ever to grow Gennarosity Abroad, her not-for-profit organisation that provides a range of services, including education, health and vocational training, to communities in Kenya. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts, with a double major in International Aid and Development and Sustainable Development, Genna’s walking away with more than a qualification.

“I feel I have become more worldly from the seat of my computer and at the touch of a finger. This blows my mind every time I think about it.”

“Doing something as the norm doesn't necessarily make it right. I can think outside the box a lot more and look for alternative avenues to reach the desired goal or outcome.”

The foundation of good experiences

When we enjoy the environment we’re in, it’s much easier to get the most out of it and all the experiences on offer. Genna lives in Sydney so while she wasn’t immersed in campus life, she still drew so much out of her time studying.

“I will miss having online forums discussing interesting topics with like-minded people. I love hearing a different perspective on issues and having my thoughts and viewpoints challenged.  I will miss the contact I had with the tutors who I was in frequent communication with and most importantly, I will actually miss learning.”

One of the people paramount to Genna’s experience was her lecturer, Allan Johnstone. From the moment Genna made her first enquiry about studying at Murdoch, to when she graduated, Allan has been there to support, encourage and mentor her.

“Allan changed the direction of my life. If it wasn’t for him, I mightn’t have even come to Murdoch! I felt I was acknowledged as an individual and not just a number from day one.”

As the Academic Chair for international aid and development, along with sustainable development, Allan meets students at the start of their studies, helps to develop personalised and career-relevant study plans, and is there to offer advice and support throughout their uni journey. He gets to see our students grow and achieve, so graduation is a very special time for him and for all of us at Murdoch.

“The graduation of our students always gives me a great sense of hope for the future. Graduation days are very special occasions because they bring together our new graduates, friends and families, and Murdoch staff, all sharing so much pride and admiration, joyfulness and hopefulness!” 

Ready to challenge the status quo

As someone working with students from the beginning of their course and often remaining in contact with them when they become alumni with flourishing careers, Allan knows firsthand how valuable a good university experience is.

“Through university, you can find your tribe, heroes and mentors. During your time with us, you’ll have opportunities to connect with people that share your interests and passions - and to support, learn from, and energise each other. Studying is especially rewarding for the students who work hard and make the most of these opportunities.”

Whenever we take an important step in a new direction, we often question whether it’s all going to be worth it. Living on the other side of the country and working full time meant Genna needed to carefully research her options to make sure uni would fit with her lifestyle. So far, her efforts have paid off.

“I have knowledge that would have never have crossed my mind beforehand. Especially in international aid and development, you can mean well but do harm. Having the skills and awareness has made me question how and why I do things and challenge the status quo.” 

She’s now completed two degrees, has travelled extensively and runs her own not-for-profit organisation in Kenya to the benefit of local communities. So what’s Genna’s advice if you’re just starting your uni journey?  

“Make these years count! Murdoch has fantastic staff who are ready and willing to help you however they can. They all want you to succeed and pursue your goals and dreams.

“During the tough times, remember it will all pass and each hurdle you overcome, the more you grow from it. Enjoy and appreciate the opportunity you have to explore areas of your interest.

“So I might not be able to change the world, but I can change the world for some.”

If you’re looking to make a change in your world, join us at one of our upcoming events to find the path that’s right for you.

Posted on:

27 Feb 2019

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