The University of Newcastle, Australia

Bachelor of Development Studies/Law (Honours) student Irini Kassas knows what it means to embrace new.

At the age of 14, when many young people feel as though their whole world is shifting, Irini's literally did. Along with her family, she left the comforts of home in Greece, and embarked on a new chapter of life in Newcastle.

She never really looked back.

Right away, I just felt that I belonged.”

Now 20, Irini is majoring in Globalization and Economic Development and wants to use her degree to explore how different financial situations impact lives around the world.

I’m interested in how the financial climate can both give, and take away, opportunities from people in the world we live in.

And I’m motivated to do what I can to benefit the community, not only at a local level, but on an international level.”

With her sights set on creating global change, Irini did wonder if moving to a relatively isolated country like Australia would make international travel out of reach.

She didn’t need to worry. The University’s focus on global, work integrated learning meant she was given the opportunity to visit Vietnam, London and Thailand in her first year alone.

First, through the University’s iLEAD Plus International Leadership Program, she attended the 7th University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Hanoi, Vietnam.

It was a fantastic chance to enhance my skills, and to talk with other students from around the world about how best to achieve positive social change.”

The opportunities kept coming. First, an invitation from the Editor in Chief to attend the London International Model United Nations (LIMUN). Then, a four-month-long internship with Humanitarian Affairs in Pattaya, Thailand.

Upon returning to Australia, Irini’s work to serve the local and international community was recognised with the Newcastle’s Young Citizen of the Year award. And while her journey hasn’t always been easy, Irini says the future is bright.

In the past six years in Australia I have lived in public housing. Gone from renting an apartment with my family to owning our own house. From believing that I would become a housewife, to being able to choose my own career pathway.”

But this community has supported me every step of the way. And that is what keeps me going – having others believe in me.”

Irini Kassas

Bachelor of Development Studies and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student

I’m motivated to do what I can to benefit the community, not only at a local level, but on an international level.

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