International student Alejandra chose to tailor her Master of Education to the Leadership and Management specialisation, hoping the course would prepare her for leadership positions and give her the ability to train teachers to become better practitioners in her home country of Paraguay. In 2020, Alejandra won International Student of the Year in the higher education sector at the Victorian International Education Awards.
Q: Where did you study before?
I completed my high school and my undergraduate studies in my home country, Paraguay, South America, where I studied law at the Catholic University Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion. At the same time, I started to teach in a Language Institute. I became curious about education, so I continued my studies in the area by doing a specialisation in higher education didactics. I am passionate about making a change in my home country and I feel that making an impact through education is the best way to do this.
Q: Why did you choose to study at the Faculty of Education?
I chose to study a Master of Education at the Faculty of Education after doing a thorough analysis of the options available in the market. I found that the Faculty of Education is well-known around the globe and the best in education in Australia.
Q: Why did you choose to study your program?
What helped me make the decision to study the Master of Education was the ability to tailor the program to my interests through the elective subjects or doing majors in different areas. I chose the specialisation that best fit my career purposes, which is Leadership and Management.
Q: What are you enjoying most about studying at the Faculty of Education?
The thing that I enjoy the most about studying at the Faculty is the opportunities to get in touch with people from different cultures and backgrounds so in the classroom we participate in plenty of rich debates about educational systems around the world and personal experiences of the professionals. Also, doing the subject presentations with my classmates, as they were very fulfilling as people from different cultures and backgrounds come together to provide knowledge.
Q: What’s the most valuable/rewarding aspect of your program?
It would be sharing with people from so many different countries who came together with one common topic of pursuing higher education to better impact in their communities.
Q: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting the course?
All the questions I had before starting the course were all answered through the webinars held by teh Faculty and emails. I feel very happy with the personalised attention the Faculty provides to future and current students.
Q: Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?
Joining the Education Ambassador Program has allowed me to develop a sense of belonging to the Faculty community, make friends, and network with colleagues and staff. In addition, my leadership and professional skills were enhanced thanks to the training provided by the program, which allowed me to represent the Faculty professionally at various events.
A month after starting my Master of Education program I was already involved in volunteering for the welcoming table of the Faculty staff’s Open Day. I also helped with the international student Webinar in October, and a week later with the Courses for Professionals information evening, representing MEd, by sharing my experience and helping to rectify any doubts that future students may have.
In December 2019, I helped with direct phone calls to future Education students to check if they had accepted their offer and to share my personal experience if they had any questions in this matter. I also volunteered with the University of Melbourne's student impact in association with the Random Acts of Kindness Day in October 2019. In 2020 I'm taking part in both the University’s and Faculty Peer Mentoring Program and so far I have also helped with an "Evening with the Dean’s Welcoming Session" in February.
As a member of the Paraguayan Student Association; part of the GSA, I volunteered in each and every activity which was held in 2019. Due to this, I have been voted in as the current (2020) president.
While giving my time to help others I gain new skills such as interpersonal, communication and group facilitation skills as there are different situations in which you have to be resilient and adapt yourself quickly. I can then take these skills back to my ‘regular’ work routine. Moreover, I also gain leadership training and experience while developing a sense of belonging.
Q: How do you hope your course will help your career progression?
The "Leadership and Management" major is closely linked to the reality of education in Paraguay as it offers a better understanding of the current problems in leadership in terms of middle and governmental leadership positions in the management of different educational environments, including curriculum reform and the quality of the professional development of the teachers.
Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?
My plan for when I return to my country would be to use the knowledge provided by my two degrees, Law and Master of Education with the specialisation in leadership to delve into leadership positions, train teachers to become better practitioners and help to create policies or programs to better develop our system.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting your course?
My advice to future students would be that the Master of Education is the best program to acquire a strong up to date and evidence-based foundation in a broad range of fields related to education. At the same time, if you are seeking to move into leadership positions, this degree will extend your knowledge, and prepare for your future.
Another advice would be that the Faculty of Education is the best place to be. Don't be afraid of participating in all possible activities available to you, I encourage you to take part in clubs, societies and volunteering. You will meet incredible people who alongside with the knowledge you will gain, will provide you will the opportunity to make lifelong and international friendships.