Jessica Berthelsen-Murray | Student | Master of Teaching (Secondary)

After studying in China and the UK, Jessica is aiming to take her teaching skills abroad on graduating. She was drawn to the Faculty of Education's "intensive practical approach" and feels the course will push her "to become the best teacher I possibly can be." Jessica was awarded the Argyle Scholarship in Education.

Q: Can you please briefly outline your life prior to studying this program?

I grew up in country Victoria completing my high school education at Wonthaggi Secondary College. Growing up in the country had its positives and its drawbacks. I was lucky to have a supportive family and great teachers who believed in me and pushed me to pursue higher education in the big smoke once I had graduated in year 12.

I’d always had a love affair with Melbourne, I remember as a child how exciting it was once we reached the point on the freeway where you could begin to see the outlines of the big buildings in the distance. I initially was accepted into a Bachelor of Arts at Monash University; however, I struggled with direction and felt a bit lost so far away from my family. After one semester I decided to take the rest of the year off to re-evaluate what I really wanted to do.

I applied for a few different courses and decided to pursue my love of writing, so I began my three-year degree in Creative Writing at RMIT University. I had such a great experience in my undergraduate taking any chance I could to travel during my degree. I was fortunate enough to study in Guangzhou helping Chinese students to create an anthology of their own short stories. I think this is where I first considered teaching as future vocation, something I was good at. It was coming to the end of my time at RMIT and I was really contemplating teaching for my next step.

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

I had always had a very high opinion of the University of Melbourne. During my final years at Wonthaggi Secondary College our Literature teacher took us on a trip to partake in some classes at Melbourne University to assist with our final exams. I remember how much I loved the atmosphere and it was always a place at the back of my mind. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I researched a lot of different institutions and what they offered, but I felt the Faculty of Education's intensive practical approach would really push me to become the best teacher I possibly could be.

Q: Why did you choose to study your program?

I was tossing up between Primary and Secondary teaching but ultimately felt that a higher level would be a better fit. I have always been hungry for knowledge and love to learn and felt that the content I would be teaching at that higher level would not only be fun to teach my students but fun to learn myself.

Q: Do you mind sharing which Scholarship you were awarded?

I was awarded the Argyle Scholarship in Education upon commencement of my studies. I still can’t quite describe the feeling when I found out, I was so excited I called my parents right away. The University of Melbourne probably has the most extensive list of scholarships I’ve seen, and even though it can be a bit tedious filling out forms it’s so worth applying for as many as you’re eligible for because you never know. The scholarship really set me up for success at the start of my degree, taking off that initial financial pressure that I otherwise would have had. I was able to get all the necessary tools I needed including a computer, textbooks, stationery, etc.  All of which made me feel a lot more confident and relaxed coming into a new school and a new degree.

Q: Are you enjoying studying at the Faculty of Education?

My experience so far has been a positive one no doubt. Despite the current circumstance amidst a pandemic the Faculty staff have taken a lot of care in upholding the standard I experienced prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. It has been really inspiring being surrounded by like-minded peers and staff, and although online learning was an adjustment in the beginning our professors really made it a whole lot easier.

Q: How do you hope your course will help your career progression?

Since we are lucky enough to experience multiple placements during our degree, we get a lot of industry experience and hopefully will develop relationships with our mentor teachers as well. This will hopefully help all of us studying get a foot in the door come graduation. I know there is also opportunity in our final semester to study overseas which I am hoping to pursue if the circumstances allow it.

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

Once I graduate I would love to teach overseas for a year or so, perhaps in the UK or somewhere in Europe. During my undergraduate degree I was able to complete an intensive program at Cambridge University and fell in love with England. Since teaching is such a mobile career in a lot of ways it seemed a perfect opportunity to satiate the travel bug while progressing my career.

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying for your scholarship?

To be as open and honest as you possibly can be. This scholarship is for those experiencing some kind of financial hardship in their lives so it pays off to be as transparent as you can be about whatever struggles you’ve had in pursuing your higher education, and how much the scholarship would assist with that.

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