As I sit back and reflect on my university life at Deakin University (Warrnambool) 29 years ago, the one thing that I know for sure is that the experience has shaped me positively into the person that I am today. I arrived in Warrnambool in 1990 to start my 2nd year of a Bachelor of Business (Computing) at Deakin’s Warrnambool Campus. I had completed my 1st year in Penang, Malaysia, at Disted College, which was running an articulation program at that time.
I was fortunate to have a senior from Penang who met me in Melbourne, accompanied me by train to Warrnambool and settled me into my on-campus accommodation at Sherwood House. One of my first impressions of the Warrnambool countryside, as I looked out of the train window, was how many of the trees were tilted to one side, only to find out months later during winter how incredibly strong the winds were from one direction!
For me personally, Warrnambool was a refreshing change – a small regional town where people are friendly, polite and helpful, and I loved the open landscape and fresh air. I subsequently stayed at the Manor and also Wally Crowe which were great student accommodation options on campus. I got to know many Australians and other nationalities from diverse backgrounds, and these were great learning opportunities for me. One of my quickest learning curves was in time management – being able to manage all aspects of life from studies, household chores, cooking, financial management and late night grocery shopping! I also recall having to quickly learn to tune to the Aussie accent in order to follow and understand my lecturers and tutors.
One of the highlights of my student life was my involvement in the Warrnambool Overseas Students’ Association (WOSA). Through this organisation, I got to know Warrnambool and the local community well and made many friends along the way. The Head of Student Services then – the late Ian Slockwitch and his wife, Rosemary – welcomed me into their family and hosted my 21st birthday party at their home all those years back. All these positive experiences have had a long and lasting positive impact on my life.
I took up a range of subjects – Economics, Accounting, Business Policy, Statistics, Organisational Behaviour, Sociology, Business Law – in addition to my core Computing subjects. Apart from gaining a lot of technical and practical knowledge in these specific areas, I also learned the importance of intellectual property rights, acknowledging sources of information and ethical practices. This holistic approach to my education has taken me a long way in my professional life as I worked in numerous global organisations.
In my 26 years of work experience, the foundation of my 1st degree from Deakin has taken me to the next level of completing an MBA and contributed to my professional growth in many different service and manufacturing related industries. Most of my work experience has been with multi-national companies, and today I work with an American company that is in the business of workforce solutions and recruitment. I am based in Penang and head the branch operations for Penang and the Northern Region of Malaysia.
At this juncture of my life, I recently returned back to Warrnambool to tie the knot with a wonderful person, Nigel Bennett, whom I met all those years back as a student in 1990 at Deakin. I have made everlasting friendships through Deakin, and over the years we have maintained a great friendship and visited each other in Australia and in Malaysia. They are part of my “extended” family who will be with me on my big day.
Deakin and Warrnambool hold a special place in my heart, and I know that Warrnambool will always be a home away from home for me. The friendships that I have made and the experience and knowledge that I have gained have been instrumental in contributing to my personal and professional development.