My Aussie Education Experience

Trimita Chakma - Bangladesh Alumni

I went to Australia in 2008 to pursue my Masters in Information Technology at the Adelaide campus of Carnegie Mellon University. At that time Carnegie Mellon’s MSIT program was ranked number one internationally in the field of technology and was a dream program for any ambitious IT professional. The one year course was a rigorous program with three semesters squeezed into one year with a mixture of technology, business and public policy-related courses. It was, by far, the most challenging and enjoyable educational experience of my life. I never thought learning could be so addictive that I would voluntarily give up sleeping more than 5 hours a day.

With small class sizes and international students and faculty, I enjoyed individual attention and a global perspective on my studies. Through the journey of lectures and endless assignments and sleepless nights I met some of the smartest and most amazing people and we became friends for life. We did not work so hard for the sake of competition; we were rather trying to survive the workload. But in the end, most of us graduated with distinctions. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. The challenges I faced during my education in Australia nearly killed me but certainly made me tougher.

Adelaide is a small cosmopolitan city with beautiful climate and a great place for students. Unlike the big cities, housing is affordable in Adelaide. There are dazzling beaches, rolling hills and wine regions of the Barossa and McLaren Vale close to the city. With our extraordinary time management skills, we occasionally found time to attend arts and cultural festivals, watch football matches at the stadium, play Frisbee at the beach or try out food from different cultures besides our study. I must admit though, I had a cultural shock when I learnt eating kangaroos is normal in Australia and apparently it’s also healthy!

The memory of the drive along the Great Ocean Road and seeing the Twelve Apostles is still fresh in my mind.

Before I went to Australia I was an IT professional, focused on gadgetry and techno-wizardry. My education in Australia taught me the importance of aligning business with technology for success and how to communicate and work with business managers. On returning from Australia I got a job as IT Project Coordinator in a local company which was a big career jump for me. After a year I was promoted to the position of Chief Technical Officer. Today I stand in front of you as the MIS and Alumni Manager supporting AusAID’s Australia Awards in South Asia, the very program that enabled me to access a world class education and helped shape who I am today.

The confidence boost I received from my education in Australia inspired me to go beyond my regular job and become an advocate for Indigenous Peoples of Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, where I come from originally. I am also involved in combating violence against women in my country, through the One Billion Rising Bangladesh campaign. In 2012 I received AusTrade’s Australian Excellence Award for Young Alumni in Bangladesh and was also chosen as a Asia 21 Young Leader by Asia Society. Most recently in August 2013 I was chosen as one of the 100 global participants of the United National Alliance of Civilizations – Education First (UNAOC-EF) Summer School out of more than 20,000 applications.

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