Q: What makes the MGA go round?

A: The impressive roster of graduate students who sign up to volunteer with us every year.

We are proud of the dedication, hard work and positive attitudes that all our volunteers bring to MGA events and activities, as well as our community outreach programs with St Kilda Mums and Food for Change.

Our volunteer cohort in Semester 1 this year has been wonderful. Some recent feedback from one of our community outreach partners was that the MGA volunteers were engaging, hardworking and delightful – and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thank you to all our volunteers for bringing your enthusiasm, energy and smiles to our events and off-campus volunteering days over the past semester! Your precious time really helps make the MGA go round. In honour of National Volunteer Week last week, we asked a few of our regulars to share some of their experiences with us so we can find out more about why our volunteers do what they do.

Kimberley Trahar, MGA Volunteer Program Officer

Janet Adisuwono, Master of Business Administration

Janet (fourth on the right) with MGA volunteers at St Kilda Mums.

I started volunteering with the MGA this year with St Kilda Mums. They recycle nursery equipment and baby essentials to be distributed to Maternal Child Health nurses and social workers for families in need. Their vision is to ensure a sustainable future “where we share more, waste less and care for every child”. Their team welcomed us with warm hospitality and I could see that they are a close-knit organisation. I love their idea of repurposing and rehoming used equipment instead of letting these perfectly good items in working condition go straight to landfill.

Volunteering is a healing activity for me. I can recharge and recover from a busy student life, while giving back to the community. Besides the occasional scheduling issue or the need to remind myself to take the time out, I enjoy making time to help others, feeling useful and appreciated, knowing that what I do makes a difference and can put a smile on others’ faces.

It is also an opportunity for me to meet and connect with new people outside my program of study, getting to relive the campus experience, as well as the feeling of being a part of a community! 

Lakshya Goel, Master of Business

I have volunteered with MGA during Orientation Week, led the Games Night at the Caulfield campus, and contributed to the Food for Change outreach program.

Last year, we didn’t get the opportunity to meet new people or students because of the pandemic. It was a dull moment in every student’s life, especially for international students as we come here to have a cross-cultural experience. At first I was hesitant to volunteer as I was worried how I would react to meeting new people after sitting at home for a year, or if I would offend anyone – but it all worked out well. It helped me build confidence, and gave me the opportunity to meet new people.

My best experience was hosting the Games Nights. I met so many amazing people while hosting the event, which had free food and games. We enjoyed playing Jenga, Monopoly, Timer, Cluedo and many other games. It also helped connect me with peers from my faculty. Thank you to Kimberley Trahar who was always there to help me and clear my doubts. 

Jay Allen Villon, Master of Education in Inclusive and Special Education

One of my favourite experiences volunteering with MGA was during Orientation Week 2021. After a year in lockdown, it was so refreshing to see new and returning students face-to-face and to be back on the University grounds again. Seeing how excited students were to be on campus and giving away freebies to them was truly enjoyable. From setting up to packing away, it was not tiresome as I had been so looking forward to getting involved in student activities.

When I do volunteer work with MGA, it feels like I am part of the greater Monash community. It helps to make you feel less isolated in the University, especially among us international students. After a year of doing almost everything online, it is easy to feel detached and isolated from the student community, but volunteering does exactly the opposite. It is a good way to meet other graduate students and build social connections.

One particular challenge in volunteering is time management, especially on top of the usual academic load. However, by knowing your priorities and planning and organising your schedule well, I think that you could still dedicate some time to volunteering activities. Treat it as a reward or a much needed break from readings and assessments!

Nelia Agbon, Master of International Development Practice

This year, I have volunteered at the MGA Orientation Week in Semester 1, at the themed online games (Friends and Lord of the Rings) and the free lunches. Volunteering is enjoyable. One gets to have fun doing activities that have a bigger purpose. Meeting new friends, encouraging fellow students to join games or sign up for roles, giving away merchandise that gets cherished years after graduating, doing icebreakers to loosen up – it is all fun and directed towards enriching the student experience. 

Signing up for volunteering roles means you need to work around class requirements, so even if volunteering means fun, it takes a back seat to University tasks. But volunteering experiences and connections are so valuable – the ties that bind volunteers are amazing. It would be great to maintain connections with fellow volunteers and keep in touch.  

Here in Australia, volunteering is highly valued. If I have the chance again, I will volunteer and be part of an amazing cohort.

Venky Pitchumani, PhD candidate, School of Chemistry

Weekly MGA badminton sessions at Clayton.

I am a volunteer badminton leader for weekly sessions based at Clayton. It gives me immense pleasure to run these sessions as I get to meet new people of various educational and cultural backgrounds.

Running these sessions provides a challenging and inspiring environment to develop important values such as experiencing the spirit of competition to developing organisational skills that can be applied to other areas of life. It gives me a chance to develop time management, team work, problem-solving and cross-cultural communication skills, as well as the ability to take initiative and make a positive contribution.

Apart from weekly casual badminton sessions, we organise and conduct annual friendly tournaments on a regular basis. This is my favourite part of running these sessions. Several teams (from other campuses as well) compete against each other and the winners and runners will be awarded a certificate of appreciation by MGA. This serves as a great motivation for all.

As a PhD student, I manage my time quite well between the research, teaching and as a volunteer leader, so effective time management and communication is important. 

Interested to volunteer?

There are many opportunities to volunteer with the MGA! All current Monash graduate students from all campuses and off-campus locations are eligible to volunteer with us.