Sienna Ahn | Student | Master of Teaching (Secondary)

Whilst studying for her Bachelor of Arts with the University of Melbourne, Sienna undertook some Breadth subjects in Education which confirmed her suspicion that teaching should be her chosen career path. Now enrolled in the Master of Teaching (Secondary), Sienna says her course has been "an exciting journey so far both academically and socially." She was awarded the Bank First  Community Spirit Award for 2020.

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

I completed my high school in one of Melbourne’s south-eastern suburb in 2015. At that time, I was one of many students who did not know what career they wanted to pursue. However, I always had an interest in teaching and education and saw myself working with young people. Being curious-minded, I looked out for opportunities to have a taste of what teaching is like. During my senior years, I was lucky enough to have two work experiences in a primary and a secondary school. Probably since then, my interest grew in education and I was drawn into the idea of becoming a person who can support the growth of young people, who is, in my opinion, a teacher. I must have had some eye-opening experience during my work experience!

I studied the Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Geography and a language (Japanese), graduating in 2018. My bachelor further extended my passion and understanding in the study of human and environment relationship, social science, and culture which allowed me to gain wider perspectives and develop a personal philosophy.

Q: Please could you detail your experience of studying Breadth subjects with the Faculty of Education?

The University of Melbourne is known for its extensive breadth subjects, and during my undergraduate studies, I took several Education breadth subjects. One of them was “School Experience as Breadth” which the placement component provided a valuable insight into what teaching involves. Through this Breadth subject, I could reconfirm my interest in teaching and confidently look forward to studying teaching post-graduation.

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

One simple reason would be because I completed my undergraduate study at the University of Melbourne. I naturally considered myself continuing my study at Melbourne especially if it was for the Faculty of Education. Also, during my Breadth subject, I was able to have a glimpse of the positive and vibrant campus-life among the students at KLD and instantly, I saw myself being part of the cohort.
Another reason I chose the Faculty is its worldwide reputability. There must be reasons why they have been ranked number one in Australia for the discipline of education for many years.

Learn more about studying Education in Breadth here.

Q: Why did you choose to study your program?

I chose secondary teaching because I felt more connected working with young people and I believe education and schooling are particularly important in students’ life, especially when they are transiting through their phase of adolescence into adulthood. Teenage is most certainly a confusing and challenging time with different expectations, reality and desires colliding from all different directions. Hence, students need appropriate academical and psychological support to guide oneself into becoming someone they wish to be. I want to be part of their growth as a teacher and a supporter, especially through my specialisation of the Humanities and Languages as these disciplines are deeply connected to the understanding of society and culture, enabling students to be more informed and engaged with the wider world and most importantly, themselves.

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

I have been honoured to be the recipient of the Bank First Community Spirit Award for 2020 which is a scholarship designed to acknowledge and award a student undertaking master’s degree at the Faculty of Education who is involved in a community minded program that support refugees, people from disadvantaged backgrounds and/or indigenous communities. In my case, I have been part of a non-profit organisation (Street Family Chapel) which is run by like-minded volunteers focusing on working with homeless individuals and communities in the City of Melbourne.

Personally, being awarded this Scholarship has been an encouragement and an act of acknowledgement of commitments as a volunteer throughout my tertiary studies. Also, during this unexpected difficult time in the year 2020, I believe this scholarship will financially support myself and the community I have been volunteering for.

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

Studying at the Faculty of Education has been an exciting journey so far both academically and socially. I always felt welcomed and comfortable when I stepped into our building.
I especially enjoyed studying my learning areas in which the lectures and seminars were enriched with theories, teaching practices and real-life practical tips from experienced, knowledgeable and passionate educators and peers. Deeper learning was always made possible with an engaged, friendly and supportive cohort, and the joy of learning from one another has been one of many highlights as the cohort is made up of diverse students with different life-experience, profession, education and culture, yet all connected under the big picture of our belief in education.

Q: What’s the most valuable/rewarding aspect of your program?

The placement has been the most valuable and rewarding aspect of the program while also being the most challenging. At first, it feels daunting to be put into a school after only a few weeks of learning pedagogical and educational theories. However, you soon realise whoever is doing the doing, is doing the learning. Placement is the opportunity to truly indulge yourself and learn from real classroom setting – getting to know students, teachers, the school and relevant policies and systems on top of curriculum contents and practising pedagogical skills. It is redoubtable that on your final day of placement, you will walk out feeling the growth in your skills, knowledge and confidence.

Q: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting the course?

Time management! I thought I was a relatively organised person, but the Faculty proved me wrong when it came to those times when course work, placement and multiple assignments all happened at once on top of an average university student trying to squeeze in work and social life. There are challenges along the way during the course however, those moments encouraged me to reflect on my passion towards my future profession and when looked back, every moment with the Faculty has been cherishable.

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

By completing this course, I will be eligible to obtain the necessary teaching qualification I need to enter the teaching profession. What I value more than the qualification is how I got to learn, experience and develop into a person who is better prepared and fit for the profession. I hope this fundamental growth in the knowledge, skills, values and perspectives on young people and education will help me pursue my career aspirations and continues to build on as I become a competent teacher.

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

Teaching and working with young people is the kind of life I hope to live after graduation. At this point, my primary goal is to develop myself into a secondary teacher who is better equipped with pedagogical skills and content knowledge than the graduate standards.

I believe career options are limitless in the field of education and teaching. Therefore, in the future, I see myself working with young people around the world in a range of different settings and circumstances and wish to become a teacher who is capable in supporting students’ needs while teaching, challenging and inspiring them to be better people they wish to be.

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

There are numerous scholarship opportunities the University of Melbourne and the Faculty of Education offer to their students. My advice would be, enjoy what you do and be involved with appropriate passion. In my case, it was being part of my community and actively looking out for those in need of care and support. Supporting people around you do not necessarily mean exercising specialised skills but, being a companion and keeping a positive company. What I want to say is, live your life and just look out for scholarships you are eligible and give yourself a chance by applying!

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