Prof. Adam Shoemaker with Anesu Ashley Masocha

Episode 32: Prof. Adam Shoemaker with Anesu Ashley Masocha

Originally from Harare, Zimbabwe, Anesu made his way to Melbourne in 2013 to pursue his studies with us. However, Anesu's path took an unexpected turn with the diagnosis of a brain tumour soon after arriving.

Show notes

Despite this immense challenge, and with the (frankly, heartening) support of his family and VU’s Clinical Exercise Rehabilitation clinic, Anesu overcame his health setback and has truly excelled in life.

Anesu's vibrant personality radiates positivity every time we meet. It was such a delight to really get to know him in the latest People of VU episode.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello and welcome. I'm here to provide acknowledgement of country. For those who don't know me, I'm kj Karen Jackson, director of Moon Balletic. My genealogy tracks back to Moira Lakes in Bama Forest and Mount Hope in Pyramid Hill. Giving me my connections to Yorta, Yorta, and Barra language groups. There's a couple of things I'd like you to take away from my acknowledgement. The first is to remember the hidden history of Aboriginal people since invasion, our loss of language removal from country, and our new extinction from massacres and pandemics. The second is our strong and inherent connection to community and country. These connections have given us the resilience and courage to rebuild our languages, gain access to country, regenerate our cultural practices in acknowledging the traditional owners of the country on which you are now on. I'd like to sincerely thank them for their generosity and kindness in welcoming people onto their lands. Lands never seeded and lands that run deep into their being and spirit. I wish to pay my deep respect to the ancestors, elders, communities, and families of the Ang Wri on whose land I stand and who create connection and share knowledge with all of us. Thank you.

Speaker 2 00:01:18 Hello, colleagues. My name is Adam Shoemaker. I'm delighted to be the Vice Chancellor of Victoria University. I'm also host of this podcast, which we call People of vu, and we delve into the fascinating stories, the achievements, and I've gotta say the exceptional individuals who make up the vibrant community of Victoria University. It is fantastic also to be back here for another year. Before we start, can I thank KJ for the acknowledgement of country, which we've just heard. I to acknowledge and pay my deep, deep respects to ancestors, to elders, to families, and to all those traditional owners on all of our campuses, be they in this state elsewhere or indeed anywhere where you may be listening to this podcast. It's very important to us today. We are very privileged to have a truly extra extraordinary guest with us, asu Ashley Macha, and known to many as Ashley a VU graduate whose journey is nothing short of very special. And I had the pleasure of meeting Ashley last year during what was called V four U, which is v's. Annual volunteering event. There were hundreds of people present. That was the case, wasn't it, Ashley?

Speaker 3 00:02:33 Yeah, pretty much. It was a fun time, actually. It

Speaker 2 00:02:35 Was pretty special. Oh,

Speaker 3 00:02:36 Loved it. Absolutely.

Speaker 2 00:02:37 You know, and we had an, an aerial view taken by the photographer, all the people that were all looking up as if this is the best thing ever to volunteer. Oh yeah. You remember that.

Speaker 3 00:02:47 I, I was actually at the front. Yeah,

Speaker 2 00:02:48 I remember you were. I

Speaker 3 00:02:49 Remember I having a great shot.

Speaker 2 00:02:51 Great shot. Very much in shot and very much in in shot in terms of the sound today as well. Yeah. Too. And so I'm really pleased to continue the conversation with you and we'll, we'll walk into that Now. So, as you may know, those who know Ashley that are originally from Zimbabwe. So tell us a little bit about that. Growing up, were you from Harare or where did you grow up in Zimbabwe? Where, where was it? Well,

Speaker 3 00:03:12 Firstly, great job when you researched, by the way. Yeah. I am from Harare. Oh, okay. Yeah. Born, born and raised. Okay. So I'm actually the last born in my family. Yeah. Three siblings. So obviously I'm the favorite child, clearly. So mom and dad, you know, took care of us. And mom and dad really did, went above and beyond to give us a life that was a really, I can't really to put words to describe it, like, it was absolutely lovely. Like I had, I had peace, I had tranquility, I had happiness, and only had a childhood. Mm

Speaker 3 00:03:43 Mm And everything, especially in Zimbabwe, was quite frankly given to me as, as as a child. So I didn't really have that, you know, experience to go through at times or periods where I didn't feel like I was, you know, disadvantaged in any way, shape, or form. So I'm quite thankful and grateful for everything my parents have given to me and provided me. And growing up in Zimbabwe, in my personal, honest opinion has been the greatest blessing I've ever had in my life. Yeah. Yeah. So from childhood, I went to a school known as Eagles, Israel, primary and high School. So mom sent me to the same school. Yeah. You know, at school I was quite exactly, I was a combination of three people. Yeah. I was either eccentric because I had to do the things that no one wanted to do. Yeah. So like, I was at the French club, the chess club, computer club, tennis club, volunteering, you know, I was playing, playing tennis tournaments and attaining my tennis lessons and so forth. Wow. And then I was also quite competitive as well, so I was like, I used to play state level tennis in high school. Oh, okay. Yeah. So like, I had a coach trained like three, four times a week. And then through the weekends I had my tennis tournaments and matches. So there was that. And then came the third bug, which I'm not too proud about. I was quite frivolous in high school. Oh. So yeah, let's, let's say I was kicked outta across year and there,

Speaker 2 00:04:59 So you had a bit of a sense of humor too, it sounds like.

Speaker 3 00:05:02 Yeah. Let's put it that way. Sense of humor. Sense of humor. That's better.

Speaker 2 00:05:04 And it came out, came to the for in in school. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:05:07 Pretty much. Yeah. But thankfully I was able to re reconfigure myself when it was, came down to form six, which is our version of year 12. Yeah. Just before I made the decision I was gonna come to Melbourne for uni, because actually I actually first arrived in Melbourne 2008. Oh. So I was attending my sister Ty's graduation. Yeah. And then, so I was so entrenched with the whole Melbourne, you know, community, the culture, and above all the JB Hi-Fi. Oh, right. I went, I went to JB Hi-Fi with a couple hundred dollars, like 200 bucks. I bought a PSP and a couple PSP games and I saw like an Xbox and a PS three at the time. Yes,

Speaker 2 00:05:45 Yes.

Speaker 3 00:05:45 And I told 'em, I was like, oh yeah, mom, I'm coming back. I'm definitely

Speaker 2 00:05:48 Coming back. We'll have to let them know in JB that this was very influential. I had no idea.

Speaker 3 00:05:51 Oh, JB half, I should know. They played a significant role.

Speaker 2 00:05:55 That's so funny. So can I just ask you about, you know, when you finished or or completed high school? Yeah. Did you sort of decide to have a break? Or what did you do next?

Speaker 3 00:06:04 So I actually did decide to have a bit of a break to just kind of, you know, re-engage with just compartmentalize and to accept that you, you know, high school's over. Yeah. Because I think a lot of people need to realize that you need to take some time to invest in yourself. Yeah. And you have to come to reality of where your, what your next steps are. Because, you know, the idea, I, I understand it's a norm to go from high school and then straight to uni. Yeah. But I kind of feel like, you know, high school students need some time to kind of recalibrate Yeah. And to understand the new environment. Yeah. So I did have a year

Speaker 2 00:06:39 Break. And I think you were mentioning too, as we were, you know, beforehand that your mom had ideas about this and there were certain skills she thought she might need to acquire. What was that all about? Okay,

Speaker 3 00:06:49 So let's don't go to this. I was a bit of an entitled brat growing up. I, I never really cleaned my room. I never did anything. Mom just kind of had everything done for me. I didn't even do much. The gardening, I didn't do much with, you know, clean the house chores, you name it. I didn't do it. Especially playing games in tennis and that's it. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2 00:07:11 Of

Speaker 3 00:07:11 Course. So when mom realized I was going to uni, she's like, okay, I can't let you go like this.

Speaker 2 00:07:16 I can't let you go like this.

Speaker 3 00:07:17 This, exactly. It's just not gonna work. Yeah. So what mom did is she actually stopped gonna to work for a while because, well, the thing is mom and dad were business owners. Yeah. So, because mom and dad had a manufacturing company. Yeah. And dad was the CEO and then mom was the director. But then mom decided, okay, I'll just take a bit of a break so I could really focus on this. Yes. And then, so what mom did was she actually put me through a, a bootcamp. Oh

Speaker 2 00:07:42 Wow.

Speaker 3 00:07:42 So she literally would wake up in the morning. Yeah. Tell me to go and clean my room first she would teach me how to do laundry. Yeah. She would teach me how to do the dishes. Yeah. And then she would teach me how to do certain things such as how to iron clothes Sure. And how to, you know, clean like the floors. 'cause I never did that.

Speaker 2 00:08:01 No. Well that's right. You gotta know how to do these things. And

Speaker 3 00:08:03 Especially boys, boys have no idea how to do these things. These life skills are actually essential.

Speaker 2 00:08:08 Yeah. They are. So

Speaker 3 00:08:09 I had no idea how to do this. And then other things which mom really wanted to focus on were my soft skills. Yes. Again, my soft skills were quite questionable, Greg up. Right. So she decided to put me on a couple of, you know, excursions to help my soft skills. Yeah. A good example. She got me into a voluntary opportunity, two of them. So the first one where I provided relief and support to the less privileged and the vulnerable in Zimbabwe. Yep. Which was quite frankly a great experience to see the other spectrum of life, those who don't have. And you just be able to provide some form of clarity and happiness for these individuals and which they truly deserve.

Speaker 2 00:08:50 You know, I'm gonna say your mother sounds like an incredible person. I'm gonna have to have her on this series as well if she comes over again. Oh yeah.

Speaker 3 00:08:56 Awesome mom.

Speaker 2 00:08:57 Yeah. Good. Yeah. So you give her, give her our very best wishes, like their, your parents son. Like incredible people. And so with their support with your parents' support. Yep. You came in 2013. Yep. Okay. That's it. So it's just over a decade ago. Yeah. And just imagine all the things you've done since, because like, you know, you started studying and were you originally studying in the area of it? Was that your first interest or was it another field?

Speaker 3 00:09:21 I've always been to it.

Speaker 2 00:09:22 It's always been,

Speaker 3 00:09:23 Always been it, like from the beginning to the end, I, I knew I was in it. 'cause like I had a PS one, PS two, an Xbox, an Xbox 360 growing up. Yeah. So mom kind of realized, okay, it is time.

Speaker 2 00:09:37 And so did you start at the diploma level with it? Is that where should

Speaker 3 00:09:40 Began? Yeah. Yeah. Correct. So I initially started off with the tape course at first grade Nicholson. Yeah. Which I must say is the best experience a uni student could, could quite probably go through. Wow. It is the, I, I have great memories till this day of the first grade Nicholson campus. Especially during the winters. That was the best time on all. I think. So like, so intimate, so close with my classmates, the teachers, everything was in proximity. The chances of you trying to to ignore another was action impossible. 'cause you're so close to each other. Yeah. So I was able to, to build and form great relationships with my classmates. Like for example, I had like five to six classmates who were from Mumbai and Punjab. Yeah. And we were able to create form great relationships down to the point where they were teaching me how to speak Punjab. And actually taught me a few, a song in Punjab, which I can sing. Yes. But today's not karaoke.

Speaker 2 00:10:35 Oh. Well you never know. We might, we might have time at the end. We'll come back to it. Yeah,

Speaker 3 00:10:39 Yeah,

Speaker 2 00:10:39 Yeah. But you love music.

Speaker 3 00:10:40 I have to do. Yeah, do. Yeah. Absolutely. So I will tell more secret, when I first arrived in Melbourne in 2013 Right. And I had a bit of cash. Yeah. Which mom gave me, the first thing I did was bought Calvin Harris album 18 months.

Speaker 2 00:10:53 Oh

Speaker 3 00:10:54 Wow. That was the first time I actually paid for music. 'cause normally I would rip it and download.

Speaker 2 00:10:58 Yeah. Yeah. So this is something special to remember, isn't it? Yeah,

Speaker 3 00:11:01 Absolutely. 'cause he, I did listen to his music throughout the years. And

Speaker 2 00:11:04 Did you ever get a chance to see the Australian Open and the tennis 'cause of your interest in tennis?

Speaker 3 00:11:08 Well, yeah. I actually did. So in, actually in 2013, in December, which was my birthday, my brother got, and my, my brother got me a birthday gift, which was a ticket to Roger Federer and, and friends events. Oh. I saw Roger Federer play against Joe Wolf Andro and Rod Laver Arena. This is 2013. Mm. I also, the lo I was the lowest seats. Had a great view and the best part, rod Laver came on the court and he had rally with Roger Federer. That was the best thing, experie of my life.

Speaker 2 00:11:41 So you actually saw Rod Rally with the Fed Express?

Speaker 3 00:11:45 I saw him live. I saw Roger Feder hit a rally with Rod label. I can't even describe the experience that I had. Seeing Rocket actually hit a few forehand with Roger was just absolutely amazing.

Speaker 2 00:11:58 Well, look, I didn't know that it happened, but what a wonderful thing. I mean, it's such a Melbourne thing too.

Speaker 3 00:12:02 And to be a spot, I still have that ticket.

Speaker 2 00:12:05 Oh, that's so great. Honestly, Ashley, I mean, it's also these things that happened, the unexpected that would've been unexpected. And so other things were unexpected. And one of them was, you know, the, the daunting diagnosis that you had in terms of your health. Yeah. When did that happen? When did you get that diagnosis and what were the symptoms? What, how did you know that there was an issue?

Speaker 3 00:12:25 It all started in 2013, actually

Speaker 2 00:12:27 To the same year. Yes, same

Speaker 3 00:12:28 Year. So towards the end of 20 November, December. Right. I was in court and I was at the VU Tennis club, and then I just felt something in my knee. Ah. And then it got a bit worse. And then the following day I started to feel nerve pain in my arm. In

Speaker 2 00:12:47 Your arm. Ah.

Speaker 3 00:12:47 Yeah. And then slowly but surely symptoms started to creep in. Ah, fatigue. Yeah. Ataxia. Yeah. Hung, you know, food was no longer my sight. Yeah. Weakness. Ah. You know, like, this feels so discombobulated sometimes I just feel confused. Yeah. And regarding ataxia, ataxia is when you can't actually walk

Speaker 2 00:13:07 Straight. Right. So you sort of wobble.

Speaker 3 00:13:09 Not that, like, let's say if I wanted to walk straight, I had to walk at a diagonal angle.

Speaker 2 00:13:14 Oh, I see. Okay.

Speaker 3 00:13:16 So that's how bad things were. Yeah. But then what really told me that something was wrong was when I went to work. Yeah. And then I was working in an overnight shift job at a gym in, in Sunshine. And then I was working, and then for some strange reason, I fell asleep on the job. And I was like, okay, something's wrong. And then I went to the Footscray CT scan area. Yeah. And then I got a scan and then went back to work the same day. The same day. I got a call and it, and they said, I got a call from my gp, said, you know, Ashley, we found something and we need to see you. And I was like, can I see you tomorrow? He said, no, today. Oh,

Speaker 2 00:13:59 Today. So they actually said to come that same day. That

Speaker 3 00:14:02 Same day. Wow. Wow. And then I went back and then they told me, well, we found something in your brain and we have to be here to hospital. Wow. And that same day I also admitted to hospital. And that's practically a complete 180 2 everything. Oh

Speaker 2 00:14:17 Yes.

Speaker 3 00:14:17 And then, you know, a few hours later, a few days later, you know, CT scans, MI scans, blood tests, you name it. And then my surgeon at the time, who I won't disclose for all reasons, mentioned that we've discovered that you have a pillow cystic astro cyto. Yeah. Which was at the time, and 11 centimeter brain sugar. Whoa.

Speaker 2 00:14:37 Wow.

Speaker 3 00:14:38 And it was on my brainstem C one and C two. And it was inoperable at the time. Oh

Speaker 2 00:14:44 Wow.

Speaker 3 00:14:45 So at that time, the surgeon gave me two choices. Option one, I can go back home to Zimbabwe and be my parents and try to find solutions in Zimbabwe whilst it's in the comfort of my family. Which by the way, it's a great idea. Or I could stay in Melbourne and get the kid that I need. And then I remembered something, I had an epiphany. I realized that, wait a minute, I have, I'm an international student, meaning I have private health insurance.

Speaker 2 00:15:13 Oh, you've paid? Yeah. You paid for it as well. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:15:15 He's, he's a great partner by the way. Thanks mom. She paid for my private health insurance four years in a row.

Speaker 2 00:15:21 Oh wow.

Speaker 3 00:15:22 So that means I had four years worth of private health insurance. Yes. So I say to myself, well geez, I mean, might as well. Yeah. And the waiting here is over. So at that point, that's when I started to do a bit of doctor shopping.

Speaker 2 00:15:36 Yes. Yes.

Speaker 3 00:15:37 And I had my first surgery in Melbourne private. This was in, this was in, you know, July, 2014 as well. That's when they were discovered. Okay. It's a benign brain tumor. Yes. And then, you know, we started to do a little bit more, you know, medical treatment as well. So I'm not going to exactly go deep into the whole story because it's not exactly for the faint hearted. Yes,

Speaker 2 00:16:00 Yes. But yes,

Speaker 3 00:16:01 For those that actually do wanna pay attention to the video, it's actually on YouTube right now. Wow. Yeah, I do. Wow. I just to, just to tell you, I actually did a video with Lead Bible Australia. Yes. Yes. And they filled my medical story. Wow. Yeah. Like if you just go on Lead Bible Australia and you'll just look at me, you'll find it. It's, yeah.

Speaker 2 00:16:17 Yeah. Yeah. And so tell me when you said it was inoperable. Yeah, but it wasn't.

Speaker 3 00:16:22 So the surgeon touch topic, by the way, my surgeon at the time

Speaker 2 00:16:28 Yes.

Speaker 3 00:16:28 Deemed it was inoperable.

Speaker 2 00:16:30 I

Speaker 3 00:16:30 See. So we did, we did alternatives. Ah. I did three course of chemo. Yes. I did radiation, which by the way, it was really effective. Oh, it was

Speaker 2 00:16:39 Radi, it really was. Okay. Really was

Speaker 3 00:16:41 Like, I mean, I actually got back to my feet Wow. And actually was able to live a somewhat normal life. And I even told my parents to go back. Ah. And then sadly I rated again.

Speaker 2 00:16:52 Oh, okay.

Speaker 3 00:16:53 And then mom and dad came back.

Speaker 2 00:16:55 I see. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:16:55 Well actually, to be told mom and dad were actually playing visa tag tag team. Yes. So like, mom be here. Yes. Six months Visa expired, dad, and then vice versa.

Speaker 2 00:17:05 Wow. Like we said before, they really are incredible people.

Speaker 3 00:17:08 Oh, thank you. Thanks. Appreciate it. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:17:10 You know, you just get that feeling of so being so close here, there or both places, you know? Yeah. And so mean throughout all this. Yep. You know, you had lots of support systems, it sounds like, you know, the family one was super strong, the medical one was super strong. Yeah. What did the university do?

Speaker 3 00:17:25 Vu actually played a critical role in this, and I'll tell you why. Yeah. Upon the news that, you know, I've got my new medical condition because I first, I actually come my first year, the diploma of, you know, first grade Nicholson. Yes. And then I did that whole process of going from, you know, diploma to vu, and then that's when I got sick.

Speaker 2 00:17:45 Oh, I see. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:17:46 But then the lectures were aware on my condition. And can you imagine this? In 2015, literally five to six years before it actually became the norm, I actually did an online study.

Speaker 2 00:17:58 Oh, so they almost constructed it for you. Yeah. Ah,

Speaker 3 00:18:02 Imagine 2015. I was actually online lessons. Wow.

Speaker 2 00:18:05 That's so good to hear. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:18:06 Like, I mean, Sicily five to six years ago. So maybe I'm a pioneer. I don't know.

Speaker 2 00:18:11 Yeah, it sounds like both of you were like they and you, but it sounds like they really made up their minds Yeah. To do it with you.

Speaker 3 00:18:17 Yeah. They actually did. 'cause like one of the units was more theoretical and less, you know, practical. Yeah. So I kind of felt like they felt like it is more practical for me to just study online. Yeah. And then once exam time, I'll just go to, I'll just go to, you know, whereby Yes. Oh, St. Albans are

Speaker 2 00:18:32 In St. Alban's. Oh, that's where it was. That was so it's look at what a story, what a, an incredible thi thing to talk about it, because, you know, it's not an easy degree. No. You know, but it's great that it was almost brought to you Yep. Rather than you having to chase it everywhere, you know? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. At this whole time. So I'm, I'm delighted to hear that. How did you, you know, that transition from the, the, the diploma to the Bachelor? Yeah. Was that just a natural transition? It was very logical. And, you know, it worked easily aside from being sick. That is Yeah. But the academic side worked.

Speaker 3 00:19:04 Yeah, definitely. Like the thing is, you know, like from the ba from the diploma perspective, I think the lectures have to be some, given some form of credit, I must say. 'cause like, they really guided me, gave me all the education I needed, and they really kind of really gave me that t of that TLC, that tender Love and care. I, I really needed as a, you know, high school student who was coming from the world where mom and dad did everything. The teachers were always there for you. Yeah. To a world where your decisions and make and have a big impact. And you have to stuff the consequence of the decisions as well. Yeah. So the lectures at Vu Nicholson did a great role. Great. To give me the idea whether this is the path undertake or not. 'cause I think sometimes students may have a different opinion to say, okay, I've done this for a year, but I don't feel like this is what I want.

Speaker 2 00:19:56 But actually you knew you wanted it sent to me. Like you had this in your mind. Yeah. From a very young age. And this almost accentuated it like you're interested in it. Yep. And I think heavens, it was the time where you could do this, you know, whether you were doing rehab or sometimes from, even from, did you ever study even from hospital as well?

Speaker 3 00:20:14 No,

Speaker 2 00:20:15 It would've been too much. I

Speaker 3 00:20:16 Look, the idea did come about here and there sometimes, but I kind of felt like maybe that's a bit too courage.

Speaker 2 00:20:22 That's over the top.

Speaker 3 00:20:24 I look even I couldn't do it. I was like, I didn't think about it once, but then I felt like maybe I should turn it down just a tad. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:20:31 It sounds like you, you would have to. Yeah. And so when you became more stable Yeah. And were able to come to the campus and we're, we're here currently at first grade park. Yeah. You said you got to know the campuses really, really well. Why did you get to know this one so well?

Speaker 3 00:20:46 Okay, so it's, here's the thing. After Reno, I did my rehab from my surgeries. Right. I discovered, I discovered that Wait a minute, pH campus has a rehab clinic. Yes.

Speaker 2 00:20:58 And

Speaker 3 00:20:59 I was like, oh, wait a minute. And my lecture, my lecture started at 12 or 11. I was like, huh. So what if I have to do rehab in the morning? Yeah. Take an hour break, then go to classes. Yeah. So from building LI attend rehab for an hour and then take an hour break at building M and then go for lecture. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:21:19 Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:21:20 Now, at that time I was in a wheelchair and I was also with mom. So what mom did was she, mom literally would go to uni with me. Ah boy. And mom would attend lectures with me. Wow. I'm seriously, mom was in the lecture room with me.

Speaker 2 00:21:37 Wow.

Speaker 3 00:21:39 So yeah.

Speaker 2 00:21:40 That's incredible. So

Speaker 3 00:21:41 Now the reason why I discovered a couple loopholes was because at the time I weighed out an 18 ketos and that was quite heavy. Yes. So mom pushed me around the campus, you know that, you know that section by building D with the uphill ledge. Yes. Yeah. It's not easy to,

Speaker 2 00:21:57 Not easy. Not easy.

Speaker 3 00:21:58 So I felt like, okay, the best way for me to get from point A to point B was to find, you know, loopholes where I can get from this building to this building as ethically as possible. Yeah. And then that's when I discovered, all right, lemme do some mapping. I, I actually downloaded the map online and I did some research and I realized, okay, from building C to building DI can get there. If I go through building G and then go to the elevator. Yes. And then go through this down the, you know, the ramp. Yeah. And then I can make my way to the building.

Speaker 2 00:22:28 You, you were very scientific in your approach to this. I gotta say, is there any systematic approach? It was almost like an assignment. Yeah. You know, to get the best time and motion study Yeah. For using the campus. If you had issues with disability or ability. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:22:42 Like I, interesting.

Speaker 2 00:22:43 Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3 00:22:43 Like there, there's there a lot, so many access points for the VU campus. Like for you to get from this building to this point. Like it does take some research and a bit of experience to go other campus in and out. Yeah. But then once you do find these access points, things are a lot easier. Wow. Wow. And that's how I was able to go from point A to point B.

Speaker 2 00:23:02 And did you also, in addition to study Yep. Do other things. So you mentioned volunteering before. Yeah, I did. Yeah. You did that as well?

Speaker 3 00:23:09 Yeah. So I actually did a lot of opportunities as well. So I did a, the VPU volunteering day. Yeah. From 2017. Yes. 20 18, 20 19. And then last year, three, oh gosh. After, you know, after, you know, a couple years.

Speaker 2 00:23:23 So lucky me to see you after that break, after the sort of the pandemic break if you like. But yeah,

Speaker 3 00:23:28 That was luck year, you know?

Speaker 2 00:23:29 Yeah. It's really good. And also, when did you actually finish the degree then? The actual IT degree?

Speaker 3 00:23:34 So I finished in 2019. 2019. I actually graduated on my birthday.

Speaker 2 00:23:38 Oh wow. Yeah. And were you able to do the graduation or was that closed down by covid?

Speaker 3 00:23:43 Oh no, that was actually one month. That was actually the last graduation that was done before covid. Whoa. So I was lucky

Speaker 2 00:23:49 You've managed it just in time. Just

Speaker 3 00:23:50 In time. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:23:51 Now tell me just briefly, yeah. Were your parents there for that as well?

Speaker 3 00:23:55 At that time? No, they weren't there. It is just my brother, my sister. But

Speaker 2 00:23:58 Still you had that support, which is great.

Speaker 3 00:24:00 I had the support. I had my brother and my sister. They're both there.

Speaker 2 00:24:03 What an achievement. Yeah. Yeah. What an achievement. So great. So great. And the thing is then since then, yeah. In the workforce. Yeah. Tell us more about that. You've been using your IT skills. Yep. How do you use them? What do you do?

Speaker 3 00:24:14 Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. So, so obviously when I graduated 2019, right. December then came 2020 and then, you know, COVID

Speaker 2 00:24:22 Hit. Yeah, you bet.

Speaker 3 00:24:23 So then I had plenty of time and then, and I thought I, I kind of had an epiphany again. I said to myself, wait a minute, since I'm at home and have time, let me use this time to actually do some upskilling. So the first part was when I taught myself how to build a, a website and I actually was taught how to build a website with one of the units from uni.

Speaker 2 00:24:47 Yes.

Speaker 3 00:24:47 It's called the e-commerce, how to run an online business unit. Yeah. So I actually just kinda retouched, I rease my, you know, the uni notes and then I started to focus on how to build the website from scratch, how to do this, how to do this, how to, you know, incorporate API integrations, the DS records, the search engine optimization. So like, I'm not gonna get too technical, but I really just kind of taught myself how to build a website and online business from scratch. Yeah. During covid. Wow.

Speaker 2 00:25:19 Wow. Yeah. You're a self-starter. Wow.

Speaker 3 00:25:20 Yeah. Yeah. So then, and then afterwards I then started to do a couple certifications as well, such as how to, on LinkedIn learning. Yep. And by the way, if you're a student, you can get two months free of LinkedIn learning, just tell you loophole again. And then I, I found these, these certifications on how to teach you to put you in the mindset of an individual within that in the role that you want. Yes. So I obviously wanted IT support. Yeah. So I studied these certifications on how to be the best version of yourself in IT support.

Speaker 2 00:25:56 Yeah. That was your goal. Yeah, that was my

Speaker 3 00:25:57 Goal. That was your goal? Oh yeah. That was my goal. Absolutely. Straight on. So I, it, it was clear what I wanted. Yeah. So I was also really working hard on that.

Speaker 2 00:26:06 Yes. And did you have a, a goal as for the, the employer, not just the employment type? Yeah. Did who, who was that?

Speaker 3 00:26:12 Yeah, so like actually at that time, you know, I was just unemployed at the time. Yes. I was just like building these skills, going through these programming internships. Like I had one with the Australian network of disability. I had a mentoring program with a NZ bank.

Speaker 2 00:26:26 Okay.

Speaker 3 00:26:27 So that really helped me to get the knowledge, to put me in the right mindset. And then a few months during uni, I had an internship as well with Telstra. Yeah. Huh. And then I also had another internship with the Sum with the Ian government. Have you heard of the Summer Tech Live internship?

Speaker 2 00:26:42 Yes, I have.

Speaker 3 00:26:43 Yeah. So I was there in 2019. So that was when I act, I even met Martin Kuda.

Speaker 2 00:26:48 Oh yes. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:26:49 I met him there. I met him there. Yeah. I met him. So like we're only a hundred students that I was likely to be one. A hundred, a hundred students.

Speaker 2 00:26:55 That's so good, eh? Yeah. I was lucky. And so you've had, you know, all these ways through Yeah. Whatever obstacle. Yeah. You found a way above around or through it.

Speaker 3 00:27:03 I like to go through it, but through it. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:27:05 Through. And we don't, I don't think you call that a loophole. You call that solution thinking.

Speaker 3 00:27:09 Yeah. You

Speaker 2 00:27:10 Like, you know what I mean? Solution thinking. Right. It's very focused on end results, but also the best way to get there. Yeah. The process is just as important as the destination. It's very interesting how you've done it. Very systematic, you know. Oh, okay. It's beautiful. And then ultimately, what are you doing now?

Speaker 3 00:27:26 So at the moment I'm working as a service desk analyst. Yeah. Which is it support for a Fortune 500 company. Yeah. And I provide level one, level two, and occasionally level three support. Yeah. For users on and offsite. On offsite as well. So the main goal is to, I normally provide and provision access to company resources. And I also have to engage in, you know, for example, sometimes security, you know, protocols, whether, let's say for example, specific individuals within, within the organization gets an email. Yeah. And then they respond to it saying, is this email, you know, a scam or phishing? And then we use our, you know, technical skills and our, above all our, you know, knowledge base. Yeah. To determine, ascertain whether this is, you know, phishing,

Speaker 2 00:28:14 Whether it's real or not, whether it's

Speaker 3 00:28:16 Real or not. After our assessment. And then respond back to you say, oh no, it's safe, it's fine. Or, or deleted. So far or

Speaker 2 00:28:22 Deleted. Yeah. And are these people from all over the world

Speaker 3 00:28:25 At the moment? I only provide within the Australia Australasia department. I mean dedication so far.

Speaker 2 00:28:31 Does that mean New Zealand and Australia? Is that Pretty much? Pretty much. Okay. Oh that's, but that's very rewarding. Is it shift work like different times of the day

Speaker 3 00:28:38 Or? Oh, no, it's, it's full time. Monday to Friday. Yeah. Okay. Monday to Friday, nine to five.

Speaker 2 00:28:42 It's, but it's constant demand I would think.

Speaker 3 00:28:45 Oh yeah, absolutely. Like, I mean, not only that, you have to be able to communicate with on with clients as well. 'cause I'm on the phones users, so it does require a bit of, you know, customer sales, you know, skills. Yep. And I actually did attend a program for customer service. Right. How to, you know, enhance and accentuate your customer service skills, what to say, how to respond, even your, you know, your tone of voice. Yes,

Speaker 2 00:29:10 Yes.

Speaker 3 00:29:11 Speak to clients. Like if you speak with a certain frequency it may indicate that you're angry or so forth. So you know, again, these programs such as, you know, you know, customer service, sales, these things actually incorporate well in it.

Speaker 2 00:29:26 I'm so pleased. Look, everything you've described is so fascinating and just gives us such a sense of pride with you. Not just for you, with you Yeah. Standing side by side and seeing that. And I can pay tribute to all of the VU staff, not just in disability services and the national network. Yep. But also careers in the areas of getting internships. I mean, it's just amazing to think, but you yourself, you didn't miss any opportunity. So what's your advice for other students, international students? I mean, it sounds like you really pay attention to the, what call you, the nuance nuances. The fine print. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:30:02 Yeah, yeah, yeah. So like I understand a lot of inter students like myself, we want opportunities, we want jobs and we want roles and we wanna give be given a fair go. Of course. You know, as you know, jazz students, we may not be, you know, for someone deemed easy to, to, to employ because of specific things. Yeah. So I understand engineer students want these opportunities and the stone truth is they're never gonna be given to us. You as an individual have to make it your mission prerogative. Yeah. To, to acquire these roles. So I really do focus on, for example, mentoring programs.

Speaker 2 00:30:43 Yes.

Speaker 3 00:30:44 To really to be affiliate yourself with people who are within that industry to give you the knowledge that you need. And that's what really helped me. Yeah. Because I had a mentorship with a lady who worked at a Z bank and she gave me so much knowledge. Ah, so much information and so much, you know, details on what's required to work in this industry as well. Hmm. Yeah. And then again, another piece of advice for internet students. Pay attention to your student emails.

Speaker 2 00:31:13 Ah, yes. Yes.

Speaker 3 00:31:14 Pay lots of attention. 'cause I got three to four internships on my student emails alone.

Speaker 2 00:31:22 And a lot of people don't read them. No,

Speaker 3 00:31:24 Not at all.

Speaker 2 00:31:25 So why are you different? Why do you think you're like that?

Speaker 3 00:31:27 Because I've always been eccentric. That's

Speaker 2 00:31:30 A good thing though. I've always been eccentric. That's a good thing.

Speaker 3 00:31:32 Even in high school. 'cause like, I, like in high school, like I was quite eccentric. So to the point where I didn't exactly have too many friends, like I only had one good friend. Yeah. Like I had acquaintances. Yes. I got along with people. Yes. But I only had one real, real, one real best friend. Yeah. And honestly, I have to give a shout out to my one and only true friend Alex Ver. Yes.

Speaker 2 00:31:55 He

Speaker 3 00:31:56 Really never judged me. He always supported me and gave me the love and care that I needed as a friend and you know, super. Right. But I don't just like, I, I'll say with Alex, I didn't like the way how I used to beat me when we used to play alo together. Right.

Speaker 2 00:32:07 There's always something. Right. Even there's always something you can compete with friends as

Speaker 3 00:32:10 Well as so like, you know, so Alex just letting you know, I didn't like the way you be Halo, but other than that, he's a great guy. I think.

Speaker 2 00:32:15 You know, very forgiving. Yeah. But look, it's amazing to think that just because of the v for you day. Yeah. There we were. We met, we spoke, we invited each other to speak again. And here we are now in this podcast. Just like finding your way through the campus. Yep. Finding your way through the degree, finding your way through your health issues. Yep. Finding your way through, you know, the challenges of in, in with disability and succeeding in so many ways. It's a marvelous outcome and it's so much more to come. So can we say this? We could not be more stoked. It's been great to speak with you. Great to meet you again. And let's hope many others listening at the other end feel the same way. And I'm sure they will.

Speaker 3 00:32:55 Oh, thanks Adam. Like, it's a pleasure and honor to be here today. Like, I mean, start off from a, you know, fi for U Day to here and it's just amazing to have this opportunity and to finally shed some light, especially of the people within my community, that disability community. 'cause I just want people within my, you know, the disability community to not feel as if they're not in, not like they don't deserve to live and lead a normal life. Because you know, a lot of the, you know, a lot of people within the disability community are unemployed, don't get opportunities or not exactly given a chance, a fair go. I just want them to know that, especially those in high school, the young kids, they're the ones who are most vulnerable because they're still growing, they're still trying to identify who they are, try to find themselves. They're already at a disadvantage and so forth. So it's not exactly easy for them. They have to experience a life that most people don't experience. So I just want to really emphasize saying that regardless of your medical condition, regardless of the situation they're in, and regardless of how society perceives you, you are definitely a shining light. And you can definitely give, give up and you can definitely achieve greatness. And just like the Western Bulldogs in 2016, you'll definitely kick golf. Oh,

Speaker 2 00:34:14 That's great. Bring it on. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:34:16 As we say. Yeah, bring it on.

Speaker 2 00:34:18 Thanks again, Ashley. It's fantastic. Well,

Speaker 3 00:34:20 Thanks Adam. And again, thank you for being here and this is an absolute pleasure and honor.

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