Words of wisdom from Global Voices alumni

Make the most of opportunities. University is a time of self-discovery and learning. However, learning in isn’t just about attending classes, reading text books, and studying for exams. Life lessons are more often learnt in the field; on the run, and often without even setting out to learn something at all.

This is why the opportunities that CQUni offer students are so valuable: they aren’t just about adding a conference or extra curricula activities to your CV, they are about gaining new insights and gaining life lessons.

Global Voices partners with CQUni to provide students with the opportunity to engage with international policy at home and overseas. This might include trips to the United Nations, World Bank & IMF, or the OECD. Applying for a Global Voices scholarship has given me so many positive and unexpected experiences so far – and I haven’t even flown to New York for the United Nations ECOSOC High Level Political Forum yet.

To help me navigate this amazing journey I’m about to embark upon, I have interviewed three CQUni students who are alumni of the Global Voices program to gain their insights – Renee White (UN CSW60, 2016), Krista Flick (Y20, 2015), and Lydia O’Meara (OECD, 2015).

Hopefully the interview will inspire you to consider applying for a Global Voices Semester 2 Scholarship, supported by CQUni. Applications are open until Monday, August 8 at 5pm (AEST).

[Note before: Can I just say, after reading these interview responses, these ladies are exceptional. I’m so excited to be sharing in their Global Voices experiences.]

Krista Flick and Global Voices Delegates
Krista Flick and Global Voices Delegates

AP: I’m about to head off to New York for the United Nations ECOSOC High Level Political Forum. Do you have any tips or advice before I leave?

RW: I went to New York as well, so firstly I will say that it is amazing! Make sure you have comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking involved and heels are probably not good for that. You’re going in summer so I won’t have to recommend warm shoes. I guess I’d suggest being as prepared as possible before you leave re: visas, SIM card etc., as it makes it that little bit less stressful and daunting. Also be ready for long days and jet lag, I was pretty tired.

AP: Comfortable shoes, duly noted!

KF: Try to take a few moments every now and then to remember that this is really happening – it’s so easy to get so caught up in it all, that at the end you’re kind of left wondering “is this real life? Did that happen?!” It can all become a bit of a blur sometimes! I found it really helpful to write a travel and reflection journal to help process some of the happenings, from the personal culture shock to the discussions at the forum and everything in between.

Amy Plant and Semester 1 2016 Global Voice Delegates in Canberra - This photo must be credited courtesy of Global Voices
Courtesy of Global Voices

LO: Be able to explain the conclusion of your research paper in two sentences (e.g. the elevator spiel). I found that in face-to-face meetings I only had 30-seconds to really interest the executive in my topic.  I found that practicing on non-uni friends was the most helpful. If I could interest a lay person in my research then maybe I could excite world leaders in my ideas.

My other top tip would be to research who you are going to meet. I found that if I could present my research from their perspective then they understood it better. I was also able to ask more thought-provoking questions. Last but not least – enjoy!

AP: I’ll be sure to practice my elevator pitch on the plane, Lydia!

AP: Aside from the conference itself, what else can I expect from my Global Voices experience?

RW: You can expect to learn a lot from your fellow delegates, I feel that between myself and the two other women that attended with me, we represented a good spread of topics and information. Hearing their experiences and interests was really informative, and I think having that background and then being together as Australians at the UN representing our youth was an excellent experience.

Lydia O'Meara at the OECD with delegates and a meeting
Lydia O’Meara at the OECD with delegates and a meeting

I also have to add that hearing stories and perspectives from other countries was inspiring, heartbreaking, and very eye-opening. It really made me aware of my place in the world and what we are all doing as individuals to address inequality and injustice.

KF: You can expect to come home a different person – it’s hard to participate in such an incredible experience, and not be changed by it! For me, having the opportunity to work with some of the brightest, most passionate young people from across the world to make changes and challenges to policies at a global level was just mind-blowing, and when I returned home I was itching to find my next opportunity and adventure!

LO: You can expect to meet some amazing, intelligent, fun-loving people. I enjoy keeping in contact with other GV candidates as they often post thought-provoking articles and suggestions like other scholarships or work-experience opportunities. This is a great networking experience.

Renee White (Left) with Rosie Batty and Global Voices Delegates (Right)
Renee White (Left) with Rosie Batty and Global Voices Delegates (Right)

AP: Was there an aha moment at any point in the lead up to, or during the conference you attended that has changed a long-held belief or perspective?

RW: I think this is probably very specific to the conference I attended, but I attended one session regarding the ethics of making prostitution illegal. If someone had asked me prior to that if I thought prostitution should be illegal I would probably have said yes in the interests of keeping women from undertaking degrading work. However listening to the stories of the women who spoke, I realised that there are so many terrible things that result from making sex work illegal, and that without addressing the main reasons that women are exposed to these conditions or why they choose this work, then punishing them for doing it will not stop them from being involved in prostitution, I will only put them in danger.

KF: The pre-departure briefings, Research Fellowship and the Y2 were some of the most challenging experiences I’ve had in my academic and youth advocacy careers – I can’t even tell you the amount of times I felt completely out of my depth. Several times I caught myself wondering whether they had made a huge mistake selecting me… Who was I, an ordinary 20-something year old from a small town in Queensland with nothing particularly remarkable to put my name to, to be making policy recommendations and challenging the policies of some of the most powerful people in the world? What did I have to say to the world, which might make a difference? How could little, insignificant me, have an impact on the world?

And then I realised that really, this was my opportunity to show other young people that THEY have that power; that by taking this opportunity by the proverbial horns, I would hopefully be inspiring other ‘ordinary’ young people to be extraordinary, to believe in themselves and their voices, and stand up for what they believe in.

AP: Couldn’t have said it better myself, Kristen. Sometimes the challenge seemed like an impossible mountain to climb – but coming out on the other side, knowing I did it, I feel that I want to inspire more CQUni students to conquer their personal Everest.

LO: I felt inspired by the generosity of spirit, humbleness and strength of some of the high-achieving females such as Arancha Gonzalez (CE of the Int. Trade Centre) that I had the good fortune to meet.

I found that it is one thing to read of successful women and it is even more inspiring to meet them in person and exchange jokes while you walk the corridor to the meeting room.

I think that I must have held an impression that for a woman to be successful she must be intimidating at all times. Some of these women admitted to their mistakes and what they learnt from self-reflection. I learnt that one key feature of powerful women is that they learn from their mistakes. I felt relieved that it is OK to make mistakes as long as I establish time in my week to identify areas for improvement. In this way, leaders can aspire to create lasting change while working on the international stage.

AP: Has your Global Voicces experience had any influence or impact on your studies or perhaps your career goals?

RW: I’ve always had in interest in health promotion for Indigenous communities (I study Public Health), and I think that undertaking my research in the ways that education can advance the status of Indigenous women has given me some ideas for how this can be achieved and how I can go about making it happen.

KF: My Global Voices experience has inspired me to take more risks, to back myself more, and to challenge myself on a regular basis. It has inspired me to think at a more global level, while acting to make a change at a local level.

LO: Yes.

  • I gained credits for prior learner for the subject Public Health Nutrition with CQU.
  • I was honoured to present at the CQU Student Leadership Conference 2015.
  • My CQU course coordinator nominated me for a Summer Research Scholarship. Due to this scholarship I have had the opportunity to assist in writing a research manuscript and I will also be presenting this research at the 2016 Public Health Association of Australia conference.
  • Overall, the GV experience has greatly influenced my future career aspirations.

Throughout the writing of my research paper I interviewed multiple dietitians and public policy advisers who encouraged me to explore the power of public policy in preventing disease. This improved citizen well-being whilst also generating economic savings. I had a great discussion with world-leaders such as the OECD director of agriculture and trade who encouraged me to consider working in international public policy development to tackle the perpetuating cycle of poverty and malnutrition. Because of this experience, I am furthering my studies in public health nutrition instead of clinical dietetics as I originally planned.

AP: How did you balance your course load, travel, media commitments, and research paper?

RW: I have two kids so it was tough! I have a lot of tips and tricks that I have developed to keep myself to a deadline, so that I can slot things in where needed. I will say that it involved a lot of late nights, tears and panic attacks, but absolutely all worth it in the end.

KF: Sometimes this was actually really difficult, especially when you throw a full time job into the mix! But at the end of the day, they say if you want something bad enough you make it work – and that’s what I did. It meant a lot of prioritising, a lot of saying ‘no’ to things I would usually say ‘yes’ to without thinking, and it also meant learning to ask for help and guidance when I needed to. I found it so important to have a really strong network of academic support, the GV team, our Y20 delegation, and family and friends who could lend me some of their belief when my own self-belief faltered a bit.

LO: I dropped a uni subject to make time for GV responsibilities. This paid off as I received recognition for prior learning for my GV research paper.

AP: Application for Semester 2 Global Voices Scholarships close on Monday, 8th August. CQUniverstiy is supporting two incredible opportunities to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) or the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP22). In your opinion, why should CQUniversity students consider applying?

RW: Because it’s a once in a lifetime experience to meet the people who are working on changing the world, and to find out how you can too. I am graduating soon and I believe that being lucky enough to be a Global Voices delegate will give me an edge in my future career.

KF: I think every eligible CQUniversity student should consider applying. I still remember scrolling through my uni emails and coming across the one from Global Voices, calling for applications. I remember thinking that it sounded like an amazing opportunity, and I envied the kind of people who could attend high-level forums and make a real difference on a global scale and be a voice for young people – a voice that could be heard by some of the most influential people in the world. And then I remember thinking something along the lines of ‘you know, as crazy as this sounds… it could be you. You could do this. I mean… Why not? You need to at least try.

Almost 12 months after attending the Y20 in Istanbul as one of the five Australian delegates, I can safely say that it was one of the best risks I’ve taken in my life, and my life has not looked the same since.

I can safely say that it was one of the best risks I’ve taken in my life.

LO: My GV’s scholarship expanded my professional networks, exposed me to thought-provoking and inspiring world-leaders, broadened my career opportunities, led to academic credits, further scholarship and research opportunities and overall has enriched my academic and professional life. I highly recommend anyone interested in making a difference to apply – this is an invaluable opportunity.

If these experiences don’t tempt you to apply for a Global Voices scholarship, I don’t know what will! Apply now here.

Featured image: Credis photo Kara Pinakis

PlantPress (https://cqunilife.com)

A creative industries project manager with nine years of experience in the Western Australian arts sector | Global Voices Semester 1, 2016 delegate to the UN ECOSOC High Level Political Forum | Sustainable Development Goals Australia Advocate | CQU Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Arts student | onthegrid.city Midland contributor

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