Begum Khaja | Master of Teaching (Early Childhood)

Begum’s passion for helping new migrants in her community settle in and learn English led her to undertake a Master of Teaching (Early Childhood).

After completing her graduate studies in commerce and computer science, Begum migrated to Australia in 2011 and started working as a software professional in the IT industry. It wasn’t long before she got involved with various community activities through her local council, where she noticed that many new migrants were seeking help to understand English and to settle into the Australian lifestyle. “I was inspired to help and volunteered to join the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) in 2016,” said Begum. “I started teaching English to support new migrants, particularly children, with settling down in the community.”

Begum’s enthusiasm for education and helping children achieve their goals eventually led her to take up early childhood teaching as a career. She was successful in obtaining an academic scholarship from the Victorian government and when it came to deciding where she would study, the Faculty of Education was her first choice. “Every aspect of the University of Melbourne was inspiring and motivating. The academics and the methods they teach had a particularly strong influence on me as I pursued the ambition of becoming an early childhood educator,” said Begum.

“I wanted to be as empathic as my clinical teaching specialists because they were so motivating and explained to me how to put theory into practice, including teaching strategies during placement,” she continued. The professional experience Begum gained though her teacher placement was the most beneficial part of the program for her. “It was a great way to learn how to work with young children in the real world,” she explained. “It helped me understand the subject matter so that I can make a difference.”

Begum adds that while the Faculty's clinical model of education approach is unique in Australia, she believes it is the way forward. She emphasises that staying on top of the latest research and using it to assess and support the learning abilities of students as individuals rather than as a collective makes her feel confident in the classroom.

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Begum Khaja, Master of Teaching (Early Childhood)

In both her first and second year of study, Begum also took part in the peer mentor program – first as a mentee and later as a mentor – and is grateful for the different perspectives and connections it offered her. She believes that getting involved with extracurricular activities, student clubs and organisations is one of the best ways to “broaden your social circle, learn new skills, and improve the overall quality of your university experience”.

As for future goals, Begum is open to different possibilities. But it’s clear her dedication to helping children remains at the heart of her ambitions. “I hope to complete the PhD program in educational psychology at the University of Melbourne,” Begum said. “My aim is to eventually become a child psychologist and ensure children with diverse backgrounds and distinctive needs reach their full potential.”

Her advice to future students is to take advantage of the full experience the University has to offer. “Studying at the Faculty of Education is an exceptional experience that encompasses more than just academic accomplishment,” said Begum. “Learning new things, meeting new people, and figuring out who you are as a person should all be enjoyable experiences. Make the most of your time by embracing the opportunities that are offered, including support from outstanding academics who are happy to guide you and help you perform your best.”

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