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"Right after I enrolled and started the first semester, I knew I made the right choice. Arts for me, provided a lot of answers to my questions about our world – life, if you like."

Bachelor of Arts (Writing & International Studies) (2008)

Honours Degree of Bachelor of Arts (Communications) (2010)

1. Full name / nationality.

Melanie Alyssa Chalil / Malaysian

2. Tell us briefly about your work or role in your current organisation.

I work for the oldest English newspaper in the country and I write for the Lifestyle section, encompassing areas such as entertainment, community, fashion and lifestyle in general with a human interest focus. Additionally, I also write profile pieces on ordinary Malaysians who have done the extraordinary. My features also touch on the areas of gender, sustainability and the way in which policies affect the regular person on the street.

3. How has your study in Monash Malaysia helped to prepare you for the working world?

Particularly for my current role as a journalist, the courses I undertook in Monash has without a doubt shaped my perspective about the world we live in and our interconnected relationship with each other within a global community. More importantly, the emphasis on analysis and critical thinking in Monash’s humanities courses is an invaluable approach not only in my professional capacity but as an informed citizen.

4. While at Monash what type of opportunities did you participate in?

For two years I took part in the Faculty of Arts’ study trips, where 20 of us visited the cultural capitals of Cambodia and Indonesia. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about a country’s history, lifestyle and socio-economic fabric in a fun way. I also signed up for a work and travel program where my summer break was spent in the United States.

5. When you were choosing a course and a university did you have a clear picture of your future (and if so what was it)?

I don’t think at 20 years old anyone would have a clear picture of their future but after pre-university, I definitely had my heart set on the arts. I knew whatever profession I ended up in, some form of writing would be involved.

6. How did that change (or reconfirmed) during your experience at Monash?

Right after I enrolled and started the first semester, I knew I made the right choice. Arts for me, provided a lot of answers to my questions about our world – life, if you like. The units shed light on the problems of the world and that solutions for these ongoing struggles do not come in a one size fits all solution.

7. If you didn’t have a clear picture of your future, was there a moment at Monash that made you change the direction you would like to take in life?

No, being in Monash helped me carve a clearer path if anything.

8. Whilst at Monash, did you have any industry exposure/placements? How has it made a difference to your own life or the life of others around you? Did it consolidate what you have learnt from your undergraduate course?

In my senior year, I undertook a short internship at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In my two weeks there, I saw the reality of refugees and the bureaucracy of an international organisation like the UNHCR.

9. What was it about Monash that made you select this university in the first place?

At that time, Monash offered a course framework that was the closest to what I was looking for and because I did all humanities and social sciences in pre-university, I wanted to continue on that path. When my mother and I stopped by Monash for a counselling session, my very casual counselling was done by Dr Andrew Ng who gave us an overview of the arts and we were sold.

10. What do you love most about your student life at Monash?

I made some of the best friends during my time as a student and the freedom of exploring ideas, discussing ideas with friends and lecturers and documenting that thought process was a liberating one – it’s a privilege unique to students and I’m happy I never took a moment for granted.