Even though Naznin Jaffer is half a world away' the camaraderie of CQUniversity's Master of Business of Administration (Leadership) course has given her a new lease on life and a new sense of belonging.
Naznin who was born in Uganda' moved with her family to Kenya in 1970.
In 1972 she and her family were granted refugee status in Canada.
She lived and worked between Canada and Kenya and Uganda in the 1980s' eventually moving to Uganda in 2010.
"In Uganda' I served in various leadership positions within my faith-based community'" Nazin said.
"I was involved in mediation at the Commercial Court of Uganda and the Conciliation and Arbitration Board in the community'" she said.
"I became involved with the National Council and the poverty elimination program within the community using a holistic approach. A critical area in poverty support is education and providing pathways for children from ECD to Tertiary education to make future generations self-sufficient. Ongoing continuing education for the entire community is promoted' and funding is available for underprivileged families."
After her husband passed away in 2018 and the subsequent outbreak of COVID-19' Naznin said she felt very isolated and in need of a new path.
"During this time' I started researching online graduate programs. Whilst serving in the institutions' I met many scholars' researchers and fellow volunteers who were highly educated. I felt that I had years of experience and wanted to get a formal degree to be able to serve better'" she said.
Nazin said she chose CQU's MBA (L) because she believed it would cement her experience with formal learning and provide the skills to serve as a professional.
"I was most impressed with the content of CQU's MBA Leadership. Australian education is highly respected globally' and I felt that the online platform was more established than some of the other Canadian institutions also under consideration'" she said.
"Although the program is online' the support provided by CQU made it very personal and gave me a sense of belonging where I could reach out for help.
"(The Lecturer) Noal Atkinson played a huge role in providing one-on-one support and guiding me to the weekly virtual sessions where I met people from various parts of Australia. Within months' other overseas students and I enjoyed mentoring and working with other students through the course.
"Taking on this graduate program at my age is a huge challenge' and I was particularly concerned about IT and working through the course online' however' I found that the student support was robust.
"It was easy to reach out and ask for help in how to research and write high-calibre masters-level papers using appropriate styles such as APA. Student mentors were always readily available to review my work before submitting it' and I also learned much from the students I mentored. I felt very much part of team CQU even though I live far away.
"When I was in Queensland last year' I met up with some of the students' and it was very special because even though we were all meeting for the first time' I felt like I was meeting friends I had known forever."
Nazin said the flexibility of the course was also one of its strengths.
"For example' in the beginning' I attended Wednesday classes at the most ungodly hours while in Canada. Within weeks' Noal advised me that a second session had been introduced and worked out much better.
"These virtual classes make it easy to stay on track' remain motivated and find mentors or module buddies. My circumstances changed significantly' and during this challenging period' when I moved countries and jobs' I had to put studying on hold."
Naznin moved back to Canada in August and is working for Canadian airline Westjet as a check-in agent.
"I am not working in development yet but hope to find a good fit in time to come. Westjet is a very progressive and innovative company.
"The MBA program has given me the confidence to take on new challenges and will be something I will use in my career in service and employment. I am proud to be a student at CQU and would recommend this program to students in any part of the world. The curriculum is well-rounded' and I found some modules particularly interesting."