Ali Ahsan comes from a family of educators. After a brief stint in finance, he found himself drawn towards the same profession.
“I come from a family where several of us have had careers in education,” said Ali. “My father, who has just retired, spent the past 51 years teaching advanced chemistry to high school students in several countries. Our usual dinner conversations have always been about issues in the education world, and he always encouraged me to pursue higher education.”
Ali was born in Pakistan and grew up in Brunei Darussalam. After completing high school, he moved to Kuala Lumpur to study finance, but it wasn't long before he realised his heart wasn’t in it. In search of something more fulfilling, he decided to undertake a two-year fellowship program that focused on eradicating education inequality in Pakistan.
“It was really disturbing to witness some of the disparities and achievement gaps in marginalised communities,” explained Ali. However, it instilled in him a passion for providing equal education to all. To gain more experience, he moved to Hangzhou, China and spent nine years teaching English and global perspectives.
For Ali, a Master of Education seemed like the next logical step, especially considering his interest in taking on administrative roles with a focus on teacher training. “The Melbourne Graduate School of Education is known for its academic rigour and high quality of teaching,” said Ali. “I chose the Leadership and Management specialisation as the courses and their objectives resonated with me. The knowledge I gained from the course also puts me in a more competitive position for senior management roles in the education sector.”
Returning to a learning environment as a student rather than a teacher took some adjustment, but Ali relished the experience to engage with like-minded individuals: “The tutors provided a very safe environment for us, and you are always respected for your input. It was also wonderful to have students from various countries in the classroom and to learn about the similarities and differences between our education systems.
“The University offers a wonderful learning environment to achieve your goals,” Ali continued. “The campus is in the heart of the city, so you have access to a variety of events throughout the year. You also have the privilege of connecting with a community that thrives on respect, dedication and determination."
Pursuing his personal interests in groups and on his own has helped make Melbourne a more familiar place for Ali. "I try my best to maintain a healthy lifestyle and love all types of sports. I was quick to register for the University's tennis club, as I have been playing the sport for many years," said Ali. "I also enjoy photography in my spare time and Melbourne offers a number of stunning locations to shoot, so I am always moving and exploring the city."
When asked what the next step in his career is, Ali highlights his desire to be a leader, touches on the possibility of a PhD, and reiterates his overarching interest in providing equal education opportunities. “I believe access to quality education at grassroots levels is the first step towards eradicating extreme poverty and offers hope for many children who find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle,” said Ali.
His advice to those considering the Master of Education program reflects his teaching experience and mentoring qualities: “The first thing you can do is explore the course within each specialisation and consider what you intend to achieve. Ask yourself a few questions about where you see yourself upon graduation and what resonates with you most.”