Komala Murugiah | Student | Master of Education

International student, Komala, selected the Master of Education based on the school's global reputation for teaching and research. Since beginning the course, Komala has found it stimulating and challenging, connecting widely with peers, academics, as well as being involved in a number of organisations.

Watch a Day in the Life of Komala

Q: Why did you choose to study at the Faculty of Education? What led you to this decision?

I was drawn to teh Faculty of Education as the scope of my search for graduate schools narrowed to a school that takes a lead in research and teaching, globally. Expertise and experience can only be nurtured over time, and I felt that the Faculty will be able to guide me in honing what I can do, best. After arriving in Melbourne, I felt that I’d made the right choice for myself as I stood in-front of the university’s crest, which goes ‘Postera Crescam Laude’, and translates into, ‘May I grow in the esteem of future generations’. It resonated with my understanding of the value of education in creating a sustainable cycle of educating hearts and minds.

Q: What has been the most valuable aspect of the program so far? What has been the most challenging aspect?

The most valuable aspect of the program has been the intellectual rigour of seminars/lectures and the ability of discussions within classrooms to expand what I can consider when thinking and writing, while remaining respectful to experiences and history. Interacting with Professors, lecturers and peers who have life stories and wisdom to share, has been insightful. Challenging my initial understanding of how change is induced, how and why policies are sustained has been a riveting journey so far. I am beginning to appreciate the connections of how we grow with features of education such as pedagogy and curriculum deeply.

Q: What would you say to students who are thinking about studying Master of Education at the Faculty of Education?

I trust that students who are thinking about studying for a Master of Education at the Faculty of Education would have considered their personal motivations to pursue study and the calibre of the school to meet their expectations of the experience. I would recommend the Master of Education program to those who are looking to exercise choice in the pathway they’d like to be on, especially if they’ve gained a variety of experience in teaching, training, learning and development. This would be a place for someone who is keen on opportunities to expand and sustain their ability to think, discuss and write reflectively and critically, and get connected to a vast pool of committed minds.

Q: Do you mind sharing which Scholarship you were awarded? How has this Scholarship helped you achieve what you wanted to so far?

I received the following scholarships:

1. Education Bank First Volunteer Award

2. Melbourne Global Scholar Award

Both scholarships helped me continue participating as an active member of the communities that I am a part of at the University of Melbourne. As an international graduate student in Melbourne from Singapore during these precarious times, receiving the Education Bank First volunteer award went beyond supporting my endeavours. Both awards are affirmative, empowering, and motivational for me as I move ahead with my academic goals.

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

I would suggest to those thinking about applying for a scholarship to get in touch with the scholarship team to clarify any queries that they may have regarding the scholarship. This will allow the scholarship team to provide the applicant with relevant information pertaining to the scholarship. Having the relevant information on hand will allow applications to draw on relevant experiences and expertise to write suitable expressions of interest. Applicants should also reconsider any immediate reservations they may have about starting on an application process - just apply and then wait for the scholarship committee to make their decision :)

Q: What is something interesting you have discovered about your study area or about yourself?

From the module of Resilience and Relationships, I was inspired by the effort and approach that was adopted by the lecturers to include the learning objectives that we could adopt in classrooms, when they were teaching. I then made use of an opportunity to create learning experiences to put what I had learnt into practice, at work.

From the module of Local Literacy in a Global Context, I’ve also been learning that policy and politics, though closely intertwined, remain as separate areas.  Through the module of Globalisation and Education policy, I’ve realised how vastly different approaches and consequences of global interconnectivity can be!

What I’ve opted to learn about can also be an extremely messy affair as there are heaps of opinions and understanding of what truly counts at the end of the day. My optimism in face of this stark reality, surprises me from time to time and helps me adjust too.  Resources for developing skills and self-study are available through services such as Academic Skills, which have helped me improve on various styles of writing and finding my academic voice.

Q: What is your favourite part about studying at the Faculty of Education?

The people I get to meet through lectures, talks and events, along with opportunities available to me, are my top favourite things about studying at the Faculty of Education. Apart from the Faculty, finding quiet spots to study and work at within the Graduate Student Association (GSA) is also a plus point.

Q: Why did you enrol in the Master of Education? What specialisation(s) did you choose, if any, and why?

It is told that many of the connections that define our lives, occur even without us realising it. I had been mulling over the idea of pursuing a higher degree since I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in 2012. When connecting the dots of my family’s influence, educational grounding and my work and volunteering experience spanning across the world, I considered pursuing a graduate degree in either psychology or education. I eventually, concluded that being in the field of education is one that never fails to pique my interest and to date, fulfils my head and heart. Hence, I enrolled in the Master of Education program.

I’ve had the privilege of wearing different hats while developing my career so far. This includes being tutor for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, a trainer for people with different abilities, being a developer of corporate giving activities, program/project manager and an instructional designer. I’ve also taught English to migrant workers in Singapore and currently co-lead a community-engagement journey, focused on education for just over 8 years now, between Singapore and Nepal. To learn about similar and other experiences that be created and influenced to create lasting impact through awareness and/or action, I’m intending to specialise in Equity, Diversity and Social Change and Policy in a Global Context.

Q: How do think your degree will contribute to your career development?

Pursuing the M.Ed serves as a stepping stone for me, moving towards research, application and teaching. It has brought to light an interest and ability to impart knowledge and taps on existing skills while encouraging me to explore new avenues of building expertise as form of life-long learning practice.

Q: How did you find the transition into your graduate studies?

While I’ve pursued courses and study on a part-time basis after graduating with my first degree, putting a hold on full-time work to pursue study instead was a difficult decision to make. As I had planned the specific stages of my departure from full-time work into graduate study, I felt prepared. At the same time, I was navigating through uncertainty and pangs of nostalgia. I was also managing a sense of disbelief, that here I am, finally starting on my graduate degree, after just thinking and talking about it for years. Over time, learning to accept support from family, friends, mentors, schoolmates, colleagues at work, and the range of university’s support services have proven to be a vital part of my ongoing transition.

Q: What did you expect before you came to Melbourne? Did anything surprise you about life here?

In terms of the architecture, services available and population, I get reminded of Singapore or London very much when I am in the city. I am still getting used to the climate in Melbourne, particularly the cold. What surprises me is how much the landscape changes when I venture out of the city and I can get to vast spaces of nature (mountains or forests) within two to three hours of driving. Christmas in 2018 was the first time where I had an actual Christmas tree, near a real fireplace with my housemates which sent my excitement levels through the roof! Having access to open discourse relating to cultural diversity, activism and colonial history on a daily basis has also helped to consider how I can consider discussions in different settings.

Q: Do you/ have you participated in any extra-curricular activities?

I am currently serving as a Community Engagement Leader with CHASE (Community Health Advancement and Student Engagement) where I support the team by engaging industry, training and development partners to facilitate and widen the scope of professional development opportunities for student mentors. I am also part of Ask Alumni, an informal and global mentoring program by UoM, as a mentee.

Q: Are you currently working? If so, how are you finding juggling work and study?

Yes, I am working on a casual basis and I commit approximately 16 hours a week to work during the school term. For me, working serves as an anchor and I enjoy it very much. Working in a related field to my study also allows me to study actively as I am able to relate my theoretical grounding with practical experience. I continuously aim to maximise the use of time, by using the commute to work to complete or catch-up on my readings ahead of lectures and seminars. Sometimes the to-do list seems never-ending and I remind myself to focus on what’s most important for the day and then move from there. The teams whom I work with are mindful that I am a full-time student, and I find that I am supported well so far.

Q: What would you like your next step to be?

There are so many possibilities to consider! For a start, I have thoughts about deepening ongoing efforts of empowering others (and by extension, communities). This could also be a part of pursuing a PhD. I’ve also considered teaching/guiding students at an adult/tertiary/graduate level in areas such as corporate citizenship, diaspora languages, diversity, education, globalisation (change), multi-culturalism and politics.

Komala has now graduated – watch her alum video

Watch Komala as she shares what she is doing post-graduation.

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