Studying to support the refugee community: Esther's story
Meet Esther Canmue. A refugee herself, she’s passionate about providing support for new refugees arriving in Australia. She’s investing in her career by studying a Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies at CDU – while working full time as a refugee and asylum seeker support worker and raising a family. Read on to see how she’s balancing study, life and work to reach her goals.
I thought ‘no matter how old I am, I can do this'
What made you take that final step and enrol in your degree?
I thought about studying for many, many years growing up, but I grew up as a refugee and didn’t have the same opportunities as I do in Australia. When I arrived here, I found that the flexibility and support to study was available. I thought ‘no matter how old I am, I can do this.
Why are you studying Humanitarian and Community Studies?
I want to be able to make a difference in peoples’ lives; to reach out and help people in need. I was a refugee and I work with refugees and asylum seekers every day, so I’ve seen firsthand how much help humanitarian aid workers can be.
This degree is giving me the knowledge, experience, skills and tools to go out there and make a difference in others’ lives. I’m graduating soon – it’ll be a proud day!
I want to reach out and help people in need. I’ve seen firsthand how much help humanitarian aid workers can be.
How are your studies helping you reach your career goals?
I’m learning so many hands-on, practical skills. From the techniques that the industry uses to assess people’s needs during an emergency or disaster, to constructing a United Nations tent. We’ve covered a lot of theory in the course, which is important, but one of the highlights has been the practical simulation and scenario training.
I’ve improved the way I communicate and collaborate, work in a team, write reports and engage with people in need.
On the soft-skills front, I’ve improved the way I communicate and collaborate, work in a team, write reports and engage with people in need. I’ve learned about cultural differences and how to approach them – something I deal with at work every day.
I’m surrounded by a very diverse group of classmates, which has given me a broader understanding of different cultures, languages and values. It’s taught me a lot about respecting others, which is particularly important in the humanitarian sector.
How are you balancing work, family and study?
I’ve been studying part time for six years while working and raising a family. I am really passionate about completing this degree and the flexibility at CDU is making it possible.
CDU lets me choose whether I want to study online from the comfort of my own home or on campus alongside my peers and the lecturers. This means I’ve been able to keep my job, look after my family and still make time for friends.
The lecturers are approachable and supportive, and it’s easy to get in touch. If I need help, it’s just a matter of sending my course coordinator an email and I get a response almost straight away. If she can’t help, she’ll always tell me who can. That makes life a lot easier.
I am really passionate about completing this degree and the flexibility at CDU is making it possible.
Why did you choose to study with CDU?
I feel that CDU understands the needs of students and provides opportunities to make decisions about how you want to study, whether that’s online or on campus. If you want to adjust your study load, assistance is available. It’s just a matter of getting advice from the right people at the university.
Being at CDU has been a great experience, especially at my age. I’ve studied with people my age, younger students and with people from all over the world. I like the level of respect that everyone has for each other, no matter how old you are, where you come from or what colour your skin is.
What would you say to someone considering studying Humanitarian and Community Studies?
If you’ve ever considered a career helping people, reaching out to people, or making a difference in somebody's life, think Humanitarian and Community Studies.
This degree is giving me the knowledge, experience, skills and tools to go out there and make a difference in others’ lives.
Want to be part of an industry that's helping people in need across the world? Study your way to success with a course in Humanitarian, Emergency and Disaster Management at CDU. You'll learn from industry experts, examine real-life case studies, and benefit from close connections with government, NGOs and leading aid agencies.