Alumni reflections: Hridita Dewan
Posted: 10 September 2019
Australia Awards alumna Hridita Dewan completed a Master of Development Studies at Macquarie University in Australia in 2018 through an Australia Awards Scholarship. She now works with Australia Awards – Bangladesh as a Program Officer, promoting Scholarships from a first-hand perspective.
Previous to her role with Australia Awards, Hridita was working with a Humanitarian Programme at BRAC, a leading NGO in the region. Before receiving the Scholarship, she worked at the United Nations Volunteers programme as an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Specialist attached to a development project in Bangladesh, where she contributed to help increase and improve ICT training opportunities for underserved populations in Bangladesh. Hridita says she aims to develop a career that works towards using the knowledge and skills she gained in Australia for the benefit of the ethnic communities residing in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh where she is from.
“Indigenous people are still lagging behind the non-indigenous population of Bangladesh in terms of most indicators on well-being,” Hridita explains.
“I belong to the Chakma tribe, one of the indigenous communities. I am passionate about working towards raising the living standards of indigenous people and marginalised groups. I want to especially focus my work on indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.”
She believes that in her current role with Australia Awards she is positively contributing towards supporting marginalised groups – including females from indigenous communities, and people with disabilities.
“Motivating young indigenous females to apply for a Scholarship of this nature can be difficult at times because of social constraints. As an Australia Awards alumna from an indigenous background, now working with the Program, I am in a unique position to be an advocate for Australia Awards and a role model for potential applicants from indigenous communities. I can share my experience to support them in overcoming any initial hesitations and help build their confidence” says Hridita.
Her Australia Awards Scholarship gave Hridita the opportunity to strengthen career-related skills in the development sector. “The Australia Awards Scholarship was a wonderful opportunity. It allowed me to obtain a degree from a world-class Australian university, leading me towards building a diverse and rewarding career path in local and international development,” she says.
Hridita says being a part of Australia Awards has always been a dream for her.
“My two sisters Holy Dewan and Tally Dewan also received Australia Awards Scholarships in the mid 1990’s. During my childhood I saw my sisters go to Australia for study through this prestigious Scholarship; their outstanding results and career growth always inspired me to be an Australia Awards scholar, also”.
When approaching her Scholarship application, Hridita received advice from another Australia Awards alumna, Jhuma Dewan, who is currently a member of the Australia Alumni Association Bangladesh. “She encouraged me to apply and I learnt about the more recent application process from her. Australia Awards alumni are ready to help applicants and provide tips in any way they can’’ says Hridita.
She now offers potential applicants some advice of her own to help increase their chances of submitting a quality, compliant application.
“Prepare in advance to obtain a high IELTS score to meet the top universities’ requirements, and keep all the important documents (personal, academic and professional) ready”, she explains.
“Select your preferred universities and subjects carefully and choose a subject that will lead you towards a successful career where you can use the knowledge you gain for the benefit of your society, community and country.”
She is grateful for the support from Australia Awards throughout the Scholarship process. “I received excellent support from Australia Awards from the beginning until the end,” she says. “Australia Awards Scholarships information sessions helped me get a proper understanding about the Scholarships policy and entire application process. The course advice sessions assisted me in choosing my subjects carefully. I also got the opportunity to participate in an Introductory Academic Program prior to my first semester. This Program gave me proper guidelines on academic writing, including health and wellbeing and other benefits that helped me to make a smooth transition to studying at Macquarie University,” she says.
Hridita has nothing but praise for her university student contact officer, Ilaria Teuffer, who Hridita says provided excellent service whenever she required support. “Her assistance and friendly attitude helped me a lot to cope with the new environment”, she says.
Despite this continual support, Hridita reflects that her time in Australia was not without challenges. “My journey in Australia was not always smooth. I faced challenges from the very beginning,” she says. Among these difficulties, “I had my newborn baby with me; it was very hard to arrange accommodation within a short period; and it was very difficult to complete my study staying away from family members. Meeting assignment deadlines while adjusting to life in a big city was always hard. But we learn through life’s challenges.”
She says that despite it not always being easy, her experience in Australia was ultimately incredibly rewarding. “I was fortunate to meet some wonderful people who became my very good friends. Through my time in Australia, I realised my ability to be independent and discovered other personal strengths. This experience prepared me to face stress and hardships with courage.”
Now as part of the Australia Awards team, Hridita finds great pride in being able to give back to her community. She is confident that, with the skills, knowledge and experiences she gained in Australia, she is well positioned to move forward in her career path and realise her passion of working towards the benefit of disadvantaged communities.
“I am in a position where I can identify and address social constraints, which are barriers for females from indigenous communities and persons with a disability to apply for a Scholarship. I am able to create awareness among community leaders, teachers and potential applicants through sharing my experience on the benefits of receiving an Australia Awards Scholarship. It is the biggest privilege in my professional life to get the opportunity to build the skills and knowledge of individuals so that they can contribute towards our country’s development”.
Hridita Dewan was featured as the “face of” the Australia Awards – Bangladesh promotions for study commencing in 2020.