“Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.” Philip Stanhope
I am a very passionate person who lives by this quote and believes in leading by example. As a member of my generation, it is my responsibility to become active in changing the world for the better. As an international student, I continue to abide by this philosophy and strive to be involved in my community both locally and globally.
Hello, my name is Chiamaka Ibeme and I am studying the Master of Information Technology at CQUniversity Melbourne campus, with the ambition to become a software architect. I am also a Change Champion where I promote and contribute to social innovation, which I am very passionate about.
The importance of getting involved
To contribute to my local student community, I joined the Campus Life Committee (CLC) because I believe campus life experience is very important in the development of a student and can help in navigating life beyond study, especially for international students who find themselves re-adapting to new waters.
Arriving in Australia for the first time can be tough but Melbourne is a beautiful and multicultural city with great people and activities. My aim as a CLC member is to encourage students to learn more about these activities and really identify with the local community.
Social innovation is a creative and collaborative response to complex problems.
Being an ambassador gives me the opportunity to take action with the intent to create sustained social impact and encourage my fellow students to do the same.
By encouraging students to participate in social innovation activities at my University, I hope to inspire other international students to be more involved in addressing social problems, not only in Melbourne but also when they return home.
The importance of staying connected on the outside
I also volunteer at YLab, a social enterprise of young people who bring multidisciplinary skills and fresh thinking to problem-solving.
YLab is a global social enterprise that has a team in Western Melbourne whose focus is to put young people at the centre of co-designing and co-developing solutions to complex social issues mainly in the west of Melbourne.
These social issues include unemployment, mental health issues, homelessness and poverty. I live in Maribyrnong, which is in the west of Melbourne and commute to school through Footscray station. Every other day, I see youths lurking around the corners and alleys with no particular purpose in the mornings. I encounter homeless people who build up a nest on the streets of Footscray, trying to stay warm as they fall asleep at night.
These are the driving forces of my intentions at Western YLab, as I hope to impact the lives of young adults globally, starting from my immediate community in Melbourne’s west.
CQUniversity partnered with Clean Up Australia and I volunteered to clean up Flagstaff gardens in honour of Clean Up Australia Day.
As a member of the CLC, I am part of the Clean Up campus campaign team set up to generate awareness about environmental cleanliness and combat littering, not just on campus but in the community as a whole.
Additionally, I have proposed the launch of a CQUniversity photography competition to inspire more creativity and student involvement in campus activities at my University and around the city of Melbourne. The photos from the competition will be auctioned and the proceeds will go towards CQUni Cares.
The importance of the Festival of Change
As a change ambassador, I was one of the drivers of the Festival of Change. It is a 3-day event that celebrates change-making across all campuses of my University and encourages students, staff, academics and communities to be the change.
The Festival of Change included a variety of sessions. One of the sessions, which I coordinated, was the “Introduction to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”, which educates students on the 17 goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda amongst which are No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Gender Equality and Climate Action.
The session included details on what businesses, governments and individuals are doing to achieve these goals and how we as students can get involved in our local and global community.
Another one was the “Systems Thinking for Social Change” workshop in collaboration with YLab, aimed at giving participants the chance to begin comprehending problems that they care about on a deeper level — through a system thinking approach.
The systems thinking approach involves mapping the problem to understand the root cause. For example, poverty may stem from unemployment, which is caused by issues with mental health. By systemic thinking, we are not just trying to solve poverty but going on to tackle deep-rooted issues.
Also, the Festival of Change included a “Lunch and Learn with the CEO of SecondBite” to give students the opportunity to learn from a successful social enterprise entrepreneur and understand the concept of entrepreneurship.
The Festival of Change adds value to international student experiences because, in addition to what we learn in our degree, we can gain knowledge and skills to help us make positive changes in our local and global community.
The importance of balancing work and study
At CQUniversity in Melbourne, the orientation student panel is a panel formed at the start of every term to answer questions new students may have during their orientation week. This panel consists of existing students who are invited to share their student experiences.
I was on the last student panel and each day of the orientation, students from different faculties posed the same question: How do I combine studies and getting a job as an international student?
My advice to them was to immerse themselves in their immediate community — the University — by participating in campus activities, join activities in Melbourne, volunteer in community services and in a short while you will have gained a new family willing to support you with study guides and job opportunities.
I shared my other experiences and after the orientation I had two ladies walk up to me and say, “There are so many possibilities here, I’m glad you showed me the bigger picture” and they went on to sign up for Social Innovation at my University.
Although at times, I find it challenging to juggle so many responsibilities and can feel stressed, I am glad that I motivate people to want to make a difference.
The importance of my studies
The Master of Information Technology is comprehensive with various majors and minors available, and the option to complete a 3-month internship in the final term. My classes include group projects, which have greatly honed my patience and team spirit, as well as presentations that build my confidence and communication skills.
The course includes a thorough breakdown of the technical knowledge required to progress in the field of IT.
These skills include, but are not limited to, programming, information systems development, project management, systems network management, algorithmic problem-solving and they check the boxes of what is necessary to successfully perform tasks and advance in an ICT profession.
I am on the internship pathway undertaking a Software Design and Development major and a Mobile Application Development minor. The choice of my major was influenced by the dream to create subsidised pieces of software application that can assist in the daily business processes of organisations in Nigeria.
By so doing, start-up organisations that help to provide revenue and employment for people in Nigeria will be able to do so without the burden of paying high technology fees for their technical setups.
I hope to take this idea globally and encourage more people to start social enterprises or go into entrepreneurship. Furthermore, as a Biochemistry Bachelor’s degree holder, I aim to expand my country’s science and technology sector by advocating for better use of technology in the science field.
I also hope to encourage more young adults to get into STEM programs and be the change they want to see.
I must say that participating in community activities and keeping my grades at a high standard has not been easy. To do this, I prioritise my education and give myself the time that I need to put in the work that yields good results.
The educational support and facilities provided by CQUniversity has also been a great bolster to my progress.
The importance of living in Melbourne
The city of Melbourne has everything to offer — from the celebration of diverse backgrounds, the astonishing weather of four seasons in one day and Melbourne’s culture of drinking amazing coffee (which I have definitely picked up!) to numerous activities and tourist attractions.
One of my favourite places to visit is the Shrine of Remembrance because of what it stands for and how exquisite it looks. The Shrine of Remembrance is the National War Memorial of Victoria, a monument dedicated to all those who have served in the armed conflicts and peacekeeping operations which Australia has participated in.
I would also say that the job opportunities in Victoria are endless. There are jobs available in every sector, all you need do is look.
Social enterprises are always willing to employ people with minimal skills, help them develop employable skills and get them to where they want to be.
More so, the campus life activities have helped me in networking and creating connections that I believe will end up in future collaborations in my career. It is highly important to build a good network early in one’s career as these connections help you see new perspectives, opportunities and develop the way your mind works.
Being on the Campus Life Committee has been a great opportunity to work with CQUni staff members and other students to broaden my network as well as gain tangible knowledge, which would surely help in my personal and career development.
In all parts of life, I give everything my full commitment, creativity and effort. It is important that people can see the effort put into positively changing the community, in hopes that they too will be inspired by it.