Andrea Downie | Alumni | Master of Applied Positive Psychology

Andrea saw positive psychology as a fascinating emerging subject. After completing the Master of Applied Positive Psychology, she has co-founded wellbeing initiative, Project Thrive, as well as being engaged in influential projects around the world and Australia.

Q: What's your academic background?

I completed secondary schooling at Clonard College, Geelong and undergraduate studies at Deakin University and Australian Catholic University. Upon graduating I taught at St Patrick’s Primary in Geelong West and held numerous positions of leadership through this time. I also held a position as Trade Marketing Manager Nationally at Mars.

Q: Why did you choose to study at the Faculty of Education?

I choose to study at the Faculty of Education because of its global reputation and because I knew it designed really impactful learning experiences. It is one of the most impactful learning decisions I have ever made.

Q: What did you enjoy most about studying at the Faculty of Education?

The fellow students, educators and exceptionally designed course made this what it was. The learning was very personalised and allowed me to develop existing strengths whilst challenging myself also.

Q: Why did you choose to study Master of Applied Positive Psychology?

I choose to study Master of Applied Positive Psychology because it was an emerging field that interested me greatly. There was a lot being done in wellbeing across education but in my opinion, was having little effect. I saw this field as a potential game changer in the lives of children and communities and I wanted to be part of learning from and contributing to this growing science.

Q: What was the most valuable/rewarding aspect of your course?

The most valuable and rewarding aspect of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology was actioning my learning in my own context and integrating these experiences into my studies. It made the learning highly relevant and very powerful.

Q: What interested you most about the area you studied? How do you apply it in your current role?

The shift from reactive problem solving in education to potentiality is what excited me most
about the Master of Applied Positive Psychology. I have had the opportunity of working with over 140 schools, nationally and overseas since 2016 co-creating this and embedding wellbeing science across their communities.

Q: During your studies, did you undertake any extra-curricular activities?

During the Masters I contributed towards supporting Dr Lea Waters in bringing research alive through visual representations that meant educators could easily access information in an engaging way.

Q: What have you worked on since graduating from the Master of Applied Positive Psychology?

I have been very fortunate to have some incredible experiences since graduating from The University of Melbourne and co-founding Project Thrive.

Some of these include having been brought to Hong Kong to work with international schools, having been an invited keynote speaker at National Conferences, and partnered with 48 principals across Victoria.

I have also been engaged by over 140 schools on activating wellbeing science and authentic learning journeys and reigniting culture across their communities. I was also invited to join The University of Melbourne's System Informed Positive Psychology stream consisting of researchers and applicators to support in the development of this field and its impact.

Q: How has your degree contributed to your career development?

My masters degree has impacted significantly on where I am today. Without this study, Project Thrive in its current format wouldn't exist. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had, the people I have collaborated with and learnt from, and for the way the University continues to challenge my thinking even post the degree.

Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?

Expanding Project Thrive to reach more schools and organisation across Australia and globally is something I hope for over the next year. Personally I hope to have a strong impact in redesigning education to activate learning through more experiential and authentic processes which I believe will hugely impact on the life long wellbeing of students.

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about pursuing a career in positive psychology?

The advice I would give to someone thinking of pursuing a career in education design is don't stop learning, stay relevant, learn from those around you, trust in the process, look towards potentiality and partner with/learn from as many organisations as you can that you strongly believe in. Challenge yourself and think outside the box. You don't need to be classroom teaching post education qualifications to have a strong impact on student learning and well-being.

Q: What would you say to students who are thinking about studying your program at The University of Melbourne?

I recommend the Master of Applied Positive Psychology to all prospective students. Don’t disregard your previous experiences, bring these to the table whilst learning as much as you possibly can from those around you. You will meet some exceptional and diverse people studying this course, be open to all experiences and challenge yourself to different perspectives.

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