GAF Story

Stirling Jeans

RMIT University
Bachelor of Applied Science (Construction Management) (Honours)

Stirling Jeans, RMIT University scholar. Young man in grey shirt.

RMIT scholar Stirling Jeans shared the habits keeping him healthy and happy during Melbourne's lockdown and his experience working in the army reserves.

What has a George Alexander Foundation scholarship made possible for you?

The scholarship and support I have received from The George Alexander Foundation has allowed me to focus more of my time and my energy on my education, career and community. The support from the foundation both financially and through other opportunities has meant that I can choose to work in a job which is a financial sacrifice but that will improve my experience and career trajectory. It has meant that I spend less time worrying about my finances and can focus on my studies and use my time to help others in the community around me.

What motivated you to study a Bachelor of Applied Science (Construction Management), and what does your course involve in a typical week? 

For me, construction management offers a 'best of both worlds' career where I get the opportunity to work with complex applied tasks requiring technical knowledge but also using soft skills when managing people and teams to achieve the best result. At its core, construction management involves a lot of problem-solving, and each project and day brings new and exciting challenges. A typical week for my course presents a fair split in our classes between technical classes on structures, materials, and project management along with classes on finance, law, ethics, sustainability, economics, and management to achieve the balance of knowledge required to work. I have also had the opportunity to work at a builder throughout my course, so my typical week also involves working in an office or on-site performing contract administration, site management, OHS and junior project management tasks.

How are you going in the current COVID-19 pandemic?

The pandemic has been a challenge for most people in different ways, I grew up outside of Melbourne, and the biggest challenge for me has been not being able to see my family during the lockdown. Fortunately, I have retained my job in a work-from-home capacity as construction has not suffered significantly.  I have spent a lot more time at home for both study and work. I have also had the opportunity to deploy with my Army Reserve unit, which has been a rewarding experience as it has allowed me to contribute to the community in response to the pandemic.

Do you have any self-care tips you would like to share with the GAF community?

My most significant contributors to self-care are mindfulness, activity, and discipline. I have found that my mental health is at it's best when I can be physically active every day (even 20 minutes in my living room) and combining this with mindfulness techniques such as meditation or practising gratitude. Maintaining these habits has improved my relationships, study, work, service, and health – mental and physical. Self-care has become more critical in 2020, and that is why self-discipline is also essential for a happy, healthy and productive time.

What has been your experience working in the army reserves throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?

Working for the army reserve during the pandemic has been a thoroughly rewarding experience, it has allowed me to give back to my community in a challenging time for a lot of people. Working for the reserves throughout my degree has let me experience something different for a greater cause whilst continuing my studies and work.

What are your goals for the future? 

After I complete my degree in 2021, I'm hoping to work in the world of commercial or infrastructure construction or consultation. I hope to use my skills and passion to create more sustainably built environments. My greatest goal for the future is to work to increase sustainable development in high-rise construction in Melbourne or abroad.