From Nepal to Sydney – Keep Learning, Keep Sharing

CQUniversity Sydney - Niraj

Hello, my name is Niraj Thapa Magar, I come from Nepal and I am studying a Master of Management for Engineers at CQUni Sydney.

I still remember those days when my parents used to be unhappy with me because I couldn’t get into any government jobs after my undergrad studies. For them, I should have a stable job, a stable source of income and a house before 30 — but, it’s so funny to say that I am nearing my 30s and I have none of these.

But, I am proud that my parents have always been supportive of my decisions. I wouldn’t be here in Australia without their support. In my 25 years, I have never been abroad before so studying in Australia has been one of the most exciting journeys of my life.

My initial days

I still remember when I joined CQUni Sydney campus in 2018. I was sitting in that last row during my orientation because I never had that confidence to sit in the front.

Raising a hand and asking a question about anything I was not clear was out of my comfort zone, and doing something new was not my thing.

Life was as usual as it used to be: attending lectures, doing assignments, hanging out with friends within a few circles and a part-time job. No more than that.

CQUniversity Sydney Niraj
My orientation.

Figuring out my set-backs

Since my childhood, I’ve been kind of an introvert person. I have a small circle of friends and I prefer not to speak too much.

These were some of the traits that I figured was not helping me build my confidence to learn and try something new. I was struggling to get out of my comfort zone.

CQUniversity Sydney Niraj
Going to new places to relax.

Taking a new step…

As many successful leaders say, “Giving a try and accepting failure is key to success.”

So, I decided to get out of my comfort zone, do the things I am not comfortable with and most importantly those I feared the most.

It started with looking for opportunities within the University. I was thrilled to find out that there are so many opportunities our university provides.

I started my new journey by taking part in the International Student Café events. It was a great start for me to build new connections and make new friends as well as improve my communication skills because it was very difficult for me to understand the native speakers in my early days.

CQUniversity Sydney Niraj
International Student Cafe on campus.

Learning from the mentors

Believe me, mentors are the key to changing our lives and the way we do things.

In my first term, I joined a workshop series called, “Executive Coach in Residence’’ led by Phil Crenigan. He gave me insights regarding how to effectively lead a team toward a goal.

I wouldn’t have known what I was passionate about, had I not attended the “Pathway to Success” workshop run by Dr Melissa A. Bordogna in term 2. It was a life-changing experience to get inner insights regarding who I am, what I want to be and where I want to go in the next ten years.

CQUniversity Sydney Niraj
Sharing thoughts with senior CQUni staff.

Finding opportunities

I received an opportunity to attend the 2018 CQUni Student Leadership Conference at the Gladstone campus, which was fully funded by the University.

I was amazed to see so many seniors being part of the conference and hearing from them was a learning experience for me because it gave me an understanding that age doesn’t matter in leading the life we live in the way we want.

CQUniversity Sydney Niraj
Student Leadership Conference 2018.

Accepting the challenges and learning from failure…

I have never experienced being an elected candidate before. So I accepted the challenge to apply for the CQUni Council Election.

I designed my own election campaign poster, posted on the Uni notice board, distributed materials amongst students and presented election campaigns around the campus.

I had one-on-one conversations with most of my fellow students and one of the challenging parts was to make them aware of the University Council Election and their ability and right to vote for the right candidate.

I was not successful but it was an incredible experiment of my life. Mr Vindhya Raj Pokharel, one of my classmates is elected as the Student University Council Member and he is really doing well. My best wishes are always with him.

CQUniversity Sydney Niraj
My University Council election campaign.

Finding the key thing I am passionate about…

One of the key areas where I have been actively engaged since I joined CQUniversity is Social Innovation!

It has been great to be alongside Bikesh Lal Shrestha (read his story here), the social champ of Sydney who is the most active student I have ever seen at CQUni Sydney.

I attended many workshops run by Social Innovation hub including Kickstarter, Festival of Change, Anti-Poverty week and I even completed a short course, ichange, which I recommend everyone to complete.

Due to my active involvement, I got an opportunity to participate in the 2019 Ashoka U Exchange in San Diego, California with other social champs. It was a lifelong experience to be networking with social entrepreneurs and social changemakers around the world.

It was an opportunity for me to share the social issues I am passionate about with other changemakers and listen to their way of understanding towards the issues I care about.

CQUniversity Sydney Niraj
With CQUni Vice Chancellor, Nick Klomp and other Social Innovation champs during
Ashoka U Exchange in San Diego, California.

Trying something new

The Big Idea Competition was a new learning experience for me where we, as a team, did some extensive research about the youth disengagement issue in western Sydney and try to solve them through human centred design.

This was the first time in my life where I learnt about human centred design, its processes and how we could build a social enterprise through it.

We designed a social enterprise called GYO (Giving Youth Opportunities) where disengaged youths will get an opportunity to learn the technical skills and improve their employability.

We presented our ideas with the internal judge members from where I realised that creating a viable business model takes a lot of effort, patience and ability to learn from failure.

CQUniversity Sydney Niraj
Brainstorming session during our Big Idea competition.

Giving back

I always believe in giving back and for me, volunteering is one of the great ways. I volunteered at orientation day in my second term.

I took part in Zambrero – Plate 4 Plate day where we prepared nutritious meals for much-needed communities in the Philippines.

Right now, I am engaged with Storyfactory, one of the not-for-profit organisations in Sydney where my role is to help the disengaged students get into workshops.

I am also raising a fund for Teach for Nepal, one of the social organisations back in my country. If you want to be the part of my campaign, you can simply join the link below.

CQUniversity Sydney Niraj
My fundraising campaign, Teach for Nepal.

Currently, I am working with Bikesh to enhance our Social Innovation Club at CQUni Sydney. As a chairman of the Club, I would like to welcome everyone — we are very happy to listen to different ideas, experiences and perspectives regarding how to make our community a better place to live.

My final note

My journey as a CQUniversity student has been life-changing because now I have figured out my passion and my lifelong vision.

I will be graduating this July and my advice to the upcoming new students and current students is:

Get out of the class, explore and experience the new opportunities that lie within our University. Student life is not just about attending lectures and doing assignment. It’s more about exploring opportunities, getting new experiences and figuring out the who you want to be.

Find out more about the Master of Management for Engineering and Social Innovation at CQUniversity.

Enjoyed Niraj’s story? You might enjoy Australia Award Scholarship recipient, Shivaali Vanshika’s story. Or, fellow engineering student studying in Melbourne, Prince Bhandari’s journey.

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