Friendly face driving community connection in Rocky despite crisis

Published:25 May 2020

Master of Engineering student Madhoor Dhuginar on a visit to Emu Park beach.

He’s lived in Rockhampton for less than a year, but CQUniversity student Madhoor Ravikumar Dhuginar is providing a friendly connection for many locals isolated by the pandemic lockdowns.

Moving from Coimbatore in southern India to study his Master of Engineering at the Central Queensland campus in July 2019, Madhoor chose the regional centre because a friend had told him about the welcoming community.

But the outgoing student has proven himself just as friendly, especially as the COVID-19 crisis impacts daily life.

Living at Capricornia College, last year Madhoor started driving the twice-weekly bus to take students to the local shopping centre, and he enjoys the social role.

“Since the pandemic restrictions, it’s meant I can only take two passengers at a time on the ten-seater bus – so I might have to do four or five trips to make sure everyone who needs to shop can get there,” he said.

“Luckily, I love to drive – which is why I took this job in the first place!”

Madhoor has also been responsible for ensuring students meet social distancing and hand sanitising requirements on the bus, and makes sure that students get a chance to chat on the trip.

“There are people living at college from all over the world, and from all the states of Australia, and driving the bus I’ve made a lot of friends I wouldn’t have met otherwise – and I think the crisis means people are wanting to make more connections,” he said.

The busy student is also finding that in his other job, at the counter of a Rockhampton service station.

“Working at the servo, there’s people who come in every day – it’s amazing how people want to talk after being in self-isolation!” he said.

Luckily, Madhoor has plenty of experience with chatting – his previous job in back home was working for Amazon India as a customer service trainer, helping his team solve customer service problems.

“I do love to talk to people, so I’m glad I’m able to help other people have a conversation too,” he said.

With a year to go in his two-year degree, Madhoor is glad to be living on campus despite all CQUniversity classes moving online for Term 1 and 2, due to coronavirus restrictions.

“It is good to have other students around, and to know we are going through the same thing – especially as it gets very busy with assignments!” he said.

“Everyone is supporting each other.

“I was already very used to watching lectures online, but I am in the Mechanical stream, so I am looking forward to restrictions easing, and getting back into labs – and seeing my class face to face!”