Hanna Selesele is passionate about the Pacific. Taking up the role of Student Ambassador for the College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP) in October last year alongside a team of other students, Hanna hopes to use this role to promote the Pacific among current and prospective students at ANU.
“I took it up this role because I want to bring out more of the ‘Pacific’ in the Asia Pacific name that our College defines itself by.”
Hanna’s interest in the Pacific was sparked partly by her Samoan background, and her experience travelling throughout the Oceanic islands when she was younger.
At ANU, she was eager to explore the Pacific in a different context.
She enrolled in a double degree of Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Pacific Studies in 2016. The program combined her curiosity about the Pacific with her existing interest in business.
“I wanted to choose a program that I could make personal, and I found that that combination worked well for me,” says Hanna.
Once she decided what she wanted to study, making the move to Canberra from her hometown of Sydney was a no-brainer.
“ANU was the only university in Australia that offered Pacific Studies,” she explains. “I knew I had to come here because the academics here are renowned experts in the region.”
Her experience at ANU has certainly lived up to expectation: “the academics, the teachers – they care about you, the student,” she says.
In addition to the professional expertise imparted by her tutors and lecturers, she has found plenty of opportunities within the College. Through the Bachelor of Pacific Studies, she has had the chance to meet academics, diplomats, and business people working on the Pacific. So far, Hanna finds that living in Canberra, the centre of government, really increases opportunities to meet interesting and impressive people.
“Canberra is small, but it’s a global city! Some of the most important people are here,” she laughs.
Hanna has big plans for her role as Student Ambassador in the upcoming academic year. Part of her job involves helping to promote the College at careers fairs, open days, and school visits. At these events, she tries to spark an interest in the Pacific in prospective students.
“I guess people don’t really know what to study about the Pacific – this role is about giving them insight,” she says.
“I talk about courses for CAP, and in doing so, I try to talk more about the Pacific, and about the diverse range of disciplines of study. There’s more to the Pacific than just beaches and palm trees,” she adds.
Of course, being a Student Ambassador is not without its challenges:
“You can’t always relate to every student,” says Hanna. “I want to talk about Pacific Studies to everyone, but of course that doesn’t always have an impact, “ she adds.
But when her words do get through, she gets a lot of satisfaction from instilling her passion for the Pacific in other students.
“If I can just impart a little bit of knowledge about the Pacific to others, and they go away with a transformed perspective of the region, then that’s enough for me.”
By CAP student correspondent Dot Mason.