Natasha Bui | Student | Breadth in Education

Bachelor of Commerce student Natasha (Tash) believes that breadth subjects give students an edge by allowing them to look at what they learn in a more holistic way. She believes that breadth subjects should be used to extend and challenge students' abilities and knowledge, "For me, it was about handpicking subjects that would allow me to flourish in areas I had low literacy in."

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

Prior to my Bachelor of Commerce studies, I spent my entire schooling life at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School – even from kindergarten! I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in marketing and management at the University of Melbourne, and I’m in my final semester of study. Graduation is something I’m immensely looking forward to. I have also worked as part of my family business for three years now as a dental office administrator.

Funnily enough, I never expected that I would get a place at the University of Melbourne. I’m very grateful things just fell into place and my offer was accepted. The campus is world-class and, in all honesty, it is extremely convenient for me as I am very attached to spending time in the CBD and having a short commute to and from home.

Q: Why did you choose your main study program?

I chose to study my main program as I felt that it resonated with me. It felt as though there were many potential pathways I could have taken. As an empath, I’ve always enjoyed supporting others and learning about the human psyche. Simultaneously, I wanted to find an area in which I could foster my creativity as a way of expressing myself, whilst being a source of reassurance for others. I also treasure my autonomy. I feel that my double major in marketing and management is very reflective of my needs and activities that I wish to invest in for the long term.

A very rewarding aspect of my program is when I’m able to confirm past intuitions during my studies. I certainly feel this sense of affinity when I’m studying and I get these “Aha!” moments when something I’ve contemplated aligns with the theories and concepts that I’m learning at university. There are many opportunities to apply knowledge at the dental practice I work at, in my passionate pursuits and in general life.

Q: Why did you choose to take a breadth subject at the Faculty of Education?

I view breadth subjects as an investment in one's skills and being familiar with broader and emerging conversations in our society. Being a commerce student has its perks, and it's easy to become very commerce-oriented or have a very narrow approach and mentality. I feel that with breadth subjects it's enormously important not to bludge by taking easy subjects or choose similar subjects with prestige. For me personally, it was about handpicking subjects that would allow me to flourish in areas I had low literacy in.

Q: Please can you detail your experience of taking a Faculty of Education breadth subject here?

Many of my breadth subjects are incredibly different. I chose my breadth subjects following extensive research using the University of Melbourne Handbook. I took Analysing Professional Communication because I wanted to understand the theories behind “talk” and conversations. I have grown up with a physical (vocal) disorder and that motivated me to understand my struggle from a very theoretical perspective. Is that strange? Perhaps! When you know the mechanics behind how things work, instead of engaging in subjective narratives we have an opportunity to take a more scientific approach to life – I think that’s the beauty of education at times. I was also drawn to this subject for its learning outcomes and because it was set out in a very digestible manner.

Useful breadth subjects give students an edge by allowing them to look at what they learn from many angles, even if there is one particular way we are “assessed” in each subject. Something that’s very obvious to students is how different the desired assessment style can be across breadth subjects, compared to our primary study area. By the same token, each breadth calls on us to think about and break down concepts with different tools and styles of thinking. Every subject provides useful insights about thinking and learning in general.

Q: Has taking breadth subjects helped you develop skills that complement your main study program? In what way?

Absolutely, and it blows my mind all the time how little I really know about everything in the grand scheme of things. I might have developed a lot of knowledge around one aspect of commerce, but it’s like a tiny brick in a huge wall. I believe that everything I learn is connected in some way. Breadth subjects are supportive of a holistic learning experience, and they are usually cutting edge too.

For example, Privacy Law and Social Networks (a law breadth) was huge. That was a game changer for me. Why? Because I learnt incredible things about privacy, technology and social media – including surveillance capitalism – from a theoretical aspect that I wouldn't have been exposed to in my main study program. It truly was mind-blowing!

Q: Is there anything you wish you’d known before studying a Faculty of Education breadth subject?

Being a student is a developmental journey. To make the most of this journey it's so valuable to branch out into unfamiliar subject-areas.

Q: . What other university breadth subjects you have undertaken?

As well as the subjects run by the Faculty of Education (Analysing Professional Communication and Positive Communities and Organisations), I also took Japanese 1 and Privacy Law and Social Networks. Out of all these breadth subjects, my favorite has been Analysing Professional Communication.

Q: Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I was involved in volleyball in my first year but later invested my time in activities outside of the University. I’m currently not part of any extra-curricular activities at the University and invest much of my time into my study load.

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

I feel that the end goal for most of us is employability or career advancement, as an increasing amount of undergraduates are already employed. While that is certainly an important milestone, I hope to not only be an employable individual but an individual who is successful in my interactions, a charismatic individual, someone who is able to negotiate, and has the ability to work well with all kinds of people. In essence, soft skills. I feel that my course has equipped me quite thoroughly with a plethora of experiences. I feel comfortable about – and not overwhelmed by – what I ought to do. I have faith and feel that being an undergraduate is only the first stage in my journey.

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about taking a breadth subject at the Faculty of Education?

It’s completely natural to seek support and get extra help from peers and from teaching staff. Breadth subjects are not necessarily easy and breezy subjects, breadth subjects are supposed to be positioned at the same level of difficulty we are used to in our own course, but in a less familiar domain. It is so valuable to pick breadth subjects you’re interested in studying because of the potential subject load. You’re going to invest valuable hours – normally a whole semester – into a breadth subject, so it should be something you value as an expansion to your original knowledge base and skill set.

Q: Can you share something interesting about yourself?

I enjoy collecting rock specimens.

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