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Congratulations to Hasan Muttakin who recently distinguished himself through perseverance and hard work to be named the Best Undergraduate International Student of the Year in the 2020 Council of International Student Australia (CISA) awards!
CISA is an independent national organisation which represents and advocates for international students at all levels, and they offer a range of annual awards to recognise high-achieving international students and individuals, organisations and projects making significant contributions within the sector.
Following news of his prestigious national award, we asked Hasan a little about himself, his participation in various Deakin programs and what advice he would share with his fellow students.
Congratulations on winning the 2020 CISA Best Undergraduate International Student of the Year award! Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
I am studying a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours) at the Waurn Ponds Campus. I’m really interested in Structural Engineering and Design so I am looking forward to pursuing a career in that field and working on building, bridge and tunnel projects. My end goal is to work towards meeting the United Nations sustainable development goals through providing affordable and sustainable housing solutions to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) that are on the verge of sinking due to the rising sea level.
What encouraged you to apply for this award?
Ever since I completed my first year, I really wanted to give back to the community and the University through helping commencing students and encouraging STEM education. This determination led me to search for activities to get involved in and soon I found myself representing and working for seven different Students Helping Students (SHS) services at Deakin, and I later joined Engineers Australia to work for a bigger audience.
I always try to look for inspiration even in the simplest and most random things. However, winning a 2019 Student Helping Student Award really encouraged me to aim higher and apply for the CISA National Award.
How did you find the application process? Do you have any advice for other students who may like to apply for awards in future?
At first, I found the application process to be very straightforward as I only needed to provide examples of how I have supported and contributed to the international student community and when I have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership.
However, speaking with one of the previous award winners and getting feedback from my supervisors really opened my eyes about some of the important points I was missing in my application. That is why I would like to take this opportunity to thank Coby Liew (Senior International Student Advisor), Chris Thanasenaris (Student Central Hub Coordinator) and Ren Atkins (Cloud Orientation Officer). I’m grateful they were able to give me their valuable time over a weekend in order to help me finish my application on time. So, my advice is always look for a second and third opinion, because no matter how much good you may think your work is, there is always room for improvement.
What are the most significant things you’ve learned, either personally or professionally, from being involved in programs or projects at Deakin?
I always encourage my peers to make use of the art of networking and to recognise that it’s not just about building new relationships. More importantly, it’s about how well we are maintaining the existing ones.
Things like academic skills can always be taught to a person but interpersonal skills are something that we develop over time – I think this needs far more focus as it directly defines our personality. Being involved in programs at Deakin really helped me hone that skillset as believe it or not, there was a time when I was so shy that I couldn’t even look straight into a girl’s eyes and have a conversation. But that was ages ago and now when I think about it, I find it amusing.
How do you stay motivated and well to juggle all the things in your schedule?
I keep myself motivated by looking up to the people who surround me and focusing on the way I want to see myself ten years from now. Time management is the key to juggle everything efficiently and effectively.
I keep myself well by making sure I sleep for nine hours every day, include greens in my meals and take long walks every now and then. I also make sure to watch something comedic or interesting before I got to bed to divert my mind from my daily life, so I don’t end up stressing about getting things done late at night.
If you could change one thing about your university experience, what would it be?
I am glad I chose Deakin for my undergraduate study. More importantly, I am glad to have crossed paths with the amazing staff members, including my SHS supervisors, academic tutors, communications team and even the student mentors who have impacted my life immensely. I always wanted to get the on-campus living experience as I think I can do so much more when living close to uni. So, I guess getting a scholarship to live on campus or a scholarship towards my final year tuition fees would be a dream come true; there aren’t any scholarships as such for current international students.
What do you consider your biggest achievement in your study so far?
The CISA award is my biggest achievement so far as it’s national recognition. However, in terms of my academic performance, I would always remember my result on the unit Applied Algebra and Statistics, as I scored 100% in that unit. As it happened during my first trimester at Deakin, it’s always going to be special.
This has been a year of big, unexpected changes. Is there anything in particular you are hoping to achieve by the end of 2020?
It has been a crazy year indeed but I am positive that things will get back to normal eventually. By the end of 2020, I want to get into one of the Top 20 Internship Programs in Australia for Civil Engineering students. Though I completed my work placement in a regional construction firm, I think exposure to a bigger company would enrich my work experience before I secure a graduate role.
Anything else you’d like to share with your fellow students?
Just three things:
- Embrace the fear of rejection as without experiencing it, you won’t learn enough.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to people as you would be amazed to see the number of people in this world who are just waiting there to support and help you unconditionally. So, find a mentor, who is going to advance you in life as well as your career.
- Learn from your mistakes and separate yourself from the crowd by building up your skillset.