From dreams to reality

They started out as five strangers, each with an ambition to further their studies through postgraduate education and each with a desire to make an impact. And so, an Indian, a Zambian and three Zimbabweans arrived at Monash South Africa in 2014 eager to undertake the MPhil in Integrated Water Management and change their futures, thanks to scholarships provided by the International Water Security Network.

The students recall their initial feelings when joining the programme:

“As I reflect back to the time I started the programme I see the Chemist in me. At the beginning I remember that I was worried about how I was going to transition and start thinking within a multi-disciplinary framework.”

“Starting my MPhil in Integrated Water Management at Monash South Africa in 2014 was very exciting for me. At that time I had no idea how much growth I would experience during the course of the degree.”

“I believed strongly that an education at Monash in particular, with its rich course offerings, distinguished and supportive faculty, and ideal location, would equip me with the tools and resources necessary to pursue my professional goals.”

As the students started to integrate into the academic environment, opportunities began to arise:

“I was humbled and thrilled to be able to work with not only the school’s prestigious faculty but also its diverse student body.”

“The scholarship not only provide funding, it also created many opportunities for me to engage with stakeholders in the water industry both locally and globally, including smallholder farmers, young water professionals, academics, corporates, government officials and many more.”

“Perhaps the highlight of my studies was the opportunity I got to present my research findings at the 4th Biennial Young Water Professionals and 1st African Water Conference in Pretoria, South Africa (15 – 18 November 2015).”

mphilsNot only did students grow through the internal and external opportunities afforded to them but many reflect more personally on their own journey and growth, and the contributions they felt they have made:

“My time at Monash South Africa taught me that I love to learn. I went from being shy and nervous in front of an audience, to confidently delivering great presentations. When I reflect on myself as a nervous student giving my first presentation, I am amazed at how much confidence I gained being in front of an audience and how much I changed in the course of my two years at Monash.”

“I got the chance to give back to the community by sharing my journey with primary school, high school and other university students on several occasions.”

Their unique research projects across two case study areas also provided them with unique learning experiences, and developed their research skills:

“My postgraduate travels and field work not only helped consolidate my undergraduate experiences, but also led to great personal and professional growth as a student and a future leader in the field of water management.”

“The degree also involved various field work and team management activities that helped me to understand solutions to various day-to-day challenges in natural resource management. Water Node staff were vital in enabling students (including me) to understand the governance and sustainability aspects of water management whilst also encouraging and guiding us on how to conduct scientific research, which actually shaped the way I did my own research.”

In looking ahead, students conclude:

“My experiences throughout this programme have been invaluable and have contributed to my evolving understanding of water governance in ways not possible in a classroom. I have bolstered my confidence, learnt how to organise and problem solve, and sharpened my leadership skills which I intend to use in the field of water management.”

“When I started this MPhil my goals were to develop an understanding of environmental policy formulation, evaluation, monitoring and improvement. I believe I achieved my objectives and I do intend to build on it and develop my understanding and knowledge further.”

“What this degree offered me is invaluable and I would like to sincerely thank the Monash South Africa Water Node and the International Water Security Network for their contribution to my education. I will now endeavor to take what I have learnt and make a positive impact as a water professional.”

We look forward to seeing these future water leaders in action, and are proud to have been associated with their development and experiences.