GAF Story

Anna Lewenhagen-Allvin

RMIT University
Bachelor of Social Science (Youth Work)

Anna, RMIT scholar, kneeling on ground outside

Congratulations on receiving a George Alexander Foundation scholarship! How did you feel when you found out?

Upon receiving my scholarship, I was so excited. I remember receiving the email and knowing that this would ultimately enhance my university experience, career, future job prospects, learning and networking whilst also allowing me to spend more time getting involved in projects I felt most passionate about. I feel extremely privileged to be given this opportunity and I am very excited for the future.

You’ve gained work experience alongside your studies – can you tell us a bit about the types of work experience you’ve undertaken? How did you come across these opportunities?

I first got involved in community work while studying my Certificate IV in Youth Work. I completed placements with People Outdoors and the Centre for Multicultural Youth, both of which I discovered through my studies. During my time at People Outdoors I provided one on one support to people with disabilities on respite camps throughout Victoria. As I have always had an interest in human rights, advocacy and community development, I was particularly interested in the work of The Centre for Multicultural Youth. I began volunteering in the Ucan2 program supporting newly arrived young people in Australia where I have continued to volunteer for the past two years. Being involved in this program has been a great learning experience. It has given me the opportunity to develop relationships with the organisation, fellow volunteers and service users, whilst also gaining an insight into working in the sector. I have also been a part of the ‘Student Learning Advisory Mentors’ at RMIT University and I am about to commence volunteering with Jesuit Social Services as a part of their homework club at the Flemington Commission flats.

What do you think the value is in gaining work experience? How does it equip you for life after study?

I think that work experience is invaluable, especially in regard to developing the skills, experience and confidence necessary in finding employment. More often than not, employers are looking for experienced workers and volunteering is a great way to gain industry experience, develop skills, build strong networks and find the areas that are of most interest. It also assists you in developing other life skills such as time management, being a part of a team and also engaging in the community which is priceless! Although commitment to doing well in your studies is incredibly important, it is just as important to develop practical skills that will work alongside your degree.

How is a George Alexander Foundation scholarship benefiting your time at university?

Studying at university is a great experience; however, juggling assignment deadlines, work, volunteering and paying bills on time can be challenging and sometimes feels nearly impossible. The George Alexander Scholarship has enabled me to spend more time participating in programs that I feel most passionate about and giving back to the community. It has also lightened the financial burden of being a student, ensuring that I can continue to excel in my course work and community work, which will in turn assist me in thriving in my career as a youth worker.

Where are you hoping your course will take you?

I would love to continue on to study a Masters Degree in Social Work or Community Development to enable me to start my own organisation empowering newly arrived young people through community engagement programs and workshops.