Finding time for an interview with Balaji Trichy Narayanaswamy isn’t easy. The Indian-born student at Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) is studying a Doctor of Philosophy, working as a Research Assistant, and also volunteers as an academic mentor at Deakin University. He is also a learning supporter with EdConnect Australia and helps Australian Red Cross’ ‘Good Start Breakfast Club’.

Balaji lives in Geelong, a city of close to 200,000 people an hour’s drive from Melbourne. He has embraced all that student life in Australia has to offer.

Academic opportunities, volunteering and mentoring in Melbourne

‘Being an international student, there are innumerable opportunities, both academic and co-curricular - from music festivals to mud races, that can be tapped upon in Melbourne. I also have really enjoyed opportunities to volunteer and participate in mentoring programs. It’s not only been a great way to get experience and start my career, but also a fantastic opportunity to make friends.’

Balaji’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. He was a successful recipient of the International Student of 2016 under Regional category. He was also nominated for two of the university’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) annual awards and been a finalist at the international youth science event and the British Council’s ‘FameLab 2015’.

He has a Masters in Engineering in Industrial Metallurgy and was awarded a full Postgraduate Research Scholarship at Deakin, where he is currently focusing his research on ’creating novel processes for developing steel alloys that will resist wear and abrasion, when used in the high-intensity environments of mining and excavation.’

The universities in Melbourne and surrounding cities have great reputations

‘Melbourne and surrounding cities such as Geelong really are great places to study. The universities have a fantastic reputation and my lecturers are world class. The student community has been an unexpected extra benefit and one that has helped me feel at home quickly.’

‘The local community has done so much to make me feel at home. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I am doing a lot of volunteer work; I want to give something back to the community. My dad is quite an inspiration and he always says this, “do what you love and always put your heart and soul into everything you do”. That’s what I have done since coming to Australia and I have received so much in return.’