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Student intern returns to her roots to build confidence in future

19 December, 2019

The opportunity to “make an impact on the world” during her Communicare internship has been one of the highlights of University of WA student Hasina Maskinyar’s degree.

The Canning Vale resident recently completed her 100-hour McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship at the Cannington-based community service organisation.

During her internship Ms Maskinyar’s developed manuals for two of Communicare’s services: Parents Next (for parents with children under age six trying to break the cycle of welfare), and Transition to Work (for young people aged 15-21 who are cannot find a job or are looking for more career opportunities).

The manuals will greatly assist staff to better understand these important programs and the benefits they provide in the community.

 “Communicare previously didn’t have anything like this for new employees – they would have to read and reread multiple documents from different places just to get a proper idea what the programs were about.”

Intern supervisor and Communicare program manager Rahul Verma said Ms Maskinyar was a “team player” and took responsibility for her tasks very seriously.

“Hasina was appreciated and acknowledged by Transition to Work and other teams that she worked with for her hard work, timeliness, professionalism and most importantly, being a nice person,” Mr Verma said.

Last year aged just 20, Ms Maskinyar started her own not-for-profit organisation while on a six-month exchange in Maryland, USA.

She founded RefugeU – a refugee rights organisation that saw her and three friends visit local high schools to mentor young refugee students on how to write admission essays and empower them to get into college.

When she returned home to Perth, Ms Maskinyar went looking for her next big challenge – and she found it at Communicare.

The now 21-year-old said being able to “give back” to an organisation that was based in the community she grew up was especially meaningful. 

“It was really rewarding in the sense that I felt like I was doing something for my own roots,” she said.

“The experience also made me realise the privilege and opportunities that I have had.

“I saw three people I went to Lynwood Senior High School with at Transition to Work. Although we grew up in the same area and went to the same school – we ended up going down different paths. And that’s not to say that my path is better than another person’s path – it was just interesting to see the diversity of outcomes.”

The 21-year-old said meeting her former schoolmates “ingrained” her resolve to be an advocate and pursue a career in human rights. 

“Previously, I didn’t think I had a lot of privilege because I’m ethnically diverse, I didn’t come from a private school and I didn’t have the socio-economic wealth of a lot of students who are doing my major,” she said.

“But now I realise that I do have a lot of privilege and my diversity makes me a better voice for these people – because a lot of time they don’t have someone coming from the same background speaking for them.

“Seeing people from my high school and my community made me realise, ‘Yes, this is exactly what I want to do’.”

Ms Maskinyar said she would encourage all UWA students to apply for an internship with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship.

“I would tell them ‘Don’t be nervous. You are going to have a real impact, and that’s really important – especially in our generation’,” she said.

“I didn’t have any expectations going into it, and now I’ve done it I’m so thankful.”