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Meet the MGAEC: Ummatul Siddique

Get to know our Peninsula Representative, Umma!

With the 2024/2025 MGAEC election fast approaching, we've been feeling extra-excited about the dedicated student representatives who govern the MGA. So, we had a chat with one of our star reps to learn more about life on the MGAEC. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re studying.

Hello, my name is Ummatul Siddique, and I’m currently in my third year of my PhD program at MNHS. Originally from India, I have a Masters of Medical Physiology and a Bachelor of Human Physiology. With a background in physiology, my research focuses on neuromuscular changes due to ageing.

Before starting my PhD, I worked as a research associate in the field of movement disorders. During this time, I collaborated with clinicians and researchers, strengthening my research skills and my passion for making a meaningful difference in the field.

Outside of academia, I’m also an avid sky watcher, finding joy in watching sunsets. It serves as a reminder to embrace nature’s wonders and seeking balance in life.

What is your role within the MGAEC?

I serve as the Peninsula Campus Representative. In this role, my primary responsibility is to advocate for the needs of all graduate students at the Peninsula campus. I act as their voice within the MGAEC, ensuring that their perspectives are heard and considered in the decision-making process.

Additionally, I work collaboratively with other members of the MGAEC to improve the overall graduate student experience at the University.

How did you first get involved within the MGAEC?

I joined the University in January 2022 when international borders reopened for students. At the Peninsula Campus, the community is relatively small, primarily consisting of part-time HDR students. At first, there were few fellow students around with whom I could engage. As an international student, this was my first venture outside of my home country, arriving in Australia without any pre-existing connections.

Feeling somewhat isolated and eager to connect with others, I came across an advertisement for an event organised by the MGA at Struan House. The prospect of engaging with other PhD students outside of my supervisory interactions filled me with anticipation and joy. On the day, I was happy to meet MGA staff members Jenny and Jan who were very welcoming. Even better - there was free food! Through their introduction, I gained valuable insights into the MGA and the committee. This provided me with a sense of community and belonging within the University.

What have you been working on as an MGAEC member?

One of my initial tasks as a representative was to raise awareness and promote the presence of MGA within the graduate community at the Peninsula campus.

To achieve this, I started running the fortnightly lunches with my HDR cohort. Initially, attendance was limited but through consistent efforts, we've seen significant growth, now with 10-12 regular attendees. These lunchesgive me insights into the challenges faced by my peers so I can advocate for their needs through MGA. I actively participate in campus-specific meetings with other groups, advocating for the requirements of our graduate student community. I have also participated in the SSAF meetings and discussion on the installation of Big Screen at Peninsula Campus

Beyond this, I've been involved in hosting and participating in Q&A panels and assisting with organising orientation events at the Peninsula campus. I'm an active member of the working group advocating against the Australian Government's migration strategy. Additionally, I co-hosted and served on the judging panel for the SOTY award held last year. That same year, I also hosted the LOTY award ceremony at the Peninsula Campus.

At a University-wide level, I've contributed effectively during monthly MGEAC meetings. Furthermore, I played a pivotal role as a member of the working group tasked with responding to the University's allegations regarding our election campaign.

What have you enjoyed most about being on the MGAEC?

I've most enjoyed the genuine connection I've made with fellow graduate students. It's been incredibly fulfilling to step outside of the confines of my faculty and engage with a diverse range of individuals, all thanks to the MGA. Building these relationships and being part of a supportive community has been the highlight of my experience.

Why should other students join the MGAEC?

When I first joined, my motivation was simple yet powerful: to foster a vibrant graduate student community and support international students adjusting to life in Australia. If you share a passion for advocating for the needs of your peers and are eager to contribute to positive changes, then joining the MGAEC is an opportunity you shouldn't miss.

It's easy to voice complaints about things not being as we'd like them to be, but it takes dedicated individuals to step up and actively work towards change. If you have that drive to make a difference, then this is the perfect platform to channel your energy and effect meaningful change within our community.

What are the benefits/opportunities that come from serving your graduate student community?

Firstly, it allows you to make a positive impact by addressing the needs and concerns of your peers while creating a supportive and inclusive environment. Secondly, it allows you to connect with fellow students, faculty members, and professionals in your field. The role enhances your leadership and communication skills, as well as your ability to collaborate and work effectively in a team. Finally, it offers personal fulfillment and a real sense of achievement in knowing that you're contributing to bettering your community.

The MGA team

Got a question or request about anything at all? Get in contact with one of our staff members – we’d love to hear from you. Alternatively, drop by the MGA office at Clayton or Caulfield so we can help!

Meet your current elected representatives

Curious to know who’s representing you at the moment? Get to know your elected representatives, what they do and how you can get involved.

Work for the MGA

The MGA employs Monash graduate students to fill the receptionist roles at the Clayton and Caulfield offices. When a vacancy arises we advertise the position through our email newsletter and on our website.

The Monash Graduate Association (MGA) is the representative body for all graduate research and coursework students enrolled at Monash University. So, what sets us apart from the University services? The MGA is an independent, not-for-profit association governed by graduate students, for graduate students. Our primary aim is to be there for you! If you can’t find what you are looking for, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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