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Innovative mentoring program at UWA offers mutual benefits

16 March, 2021

Third-year UWA Juris Doctor student Helena Trang discovered through her mentorship with Wanslea CEO Tricia Murray, just how many opportunities there are for combining her passions with a career in the community sector.

“My mentorship through the McCusker Centre for Citizenship at UWA showed me the range of opportunities available both in the public sector and within charities that is very rewarding work professionally, but also gives back to the community,” said Ms Trang.

Ms Trang said she gained many insights from Ms Murray, who is a senior leader in WA’s community services sector, with extensive networks both within that sector and within the WA Public Sector.

“I have learnt so much from my mentorship experience that I had never even considered before,” said Ms Trang. “It’s a great opportunity to both learn about future pathways but also a space to ask for advice when making decisions. I have enjoyed the experience and believe it has made a massive impact in my decision making going forward.”

“There are so many stakeholders that Tricia works and connects with who make tangible differences to the lives of others,” she explained.

Ms Murray, as the CEO of Wanslea, provides the leadership for a major not-for-profit organisation in WA that provides services for families across a wide range of programs in Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Ms Murray agrees one of the major benefits for students of undertaking a mentorship is the opportunity to explore topics they may not have considered previously.

“They get some one-on-one time with someone who may be outside their chosen field to broaden their thinking,” explained Ms Murray, adding, “It’s a safe environment where they are not being assessed and can ask hard questions.”

Both mentor and mentee appreciated the opportunity to meet and spend time with someone they wouldn’t otherwise have crossed paths with. 

“Helena was a delight. She was always cheerful, willing to discuss, did the readings I suggested and came prepared. This meant I did some extra reading as well, something I don’t always make time to do,” said Ms Murray.

Ms Trang agrees: “Getting to know Tricia well from a professional and personal level was my favourite part of the mentoring program. Without the mentoring program I would not have had to opportunity to meet Tricia and learn so much from a person with her considerable experience.

“It is an experience I would highly recommend to other students.”

The McCusker Centre for Citizenship’s unique mentoring program is now in its second year after a pilot program in 2020 connected UWA students with mentors from the not-for-profit, corporate, or government sectors. In surveying those participants, 100 per cent of students agreed the experience helped them gain knowledge, tools and skills needed to become a better active citizen, while 100 per cent of mentors recommended the program to community leaders.