Master of Communications and Media Studies (MCMS) student Tyson Kraft has won the Vice-Chancellor's Diversity and Inclusion Award.
The award recognises students and staff who have made an outstanding contribution to supporting diversity at Monash, in going above and beyond to further inclusion, cohesion, connection and belonging for people from disadvantaged and marginalised groups.
‘I’ve learned that being a student is not only about the destination, but is a journey in itself: a journey of discovery, of learning, and of introspection,' Tyson says.
A combination of initiatives within the university and wider community have led to Tyson's award win.
Tyson has made significant contributions within the MCMS program, particularly with peers from diverse backgrounds. Outside of Monash, he works with AMES Australia teaching refugees English, and also teaches at the Bangkok School for the Blind.
The ages of refugees taught by Tyson range from 18 to 80, coming from countries including Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan and China.
‘These students have had to overcome harrowing, unimaginable circumstances to arrive in Australia. On top of that, they now have to learn to speak English, and many have never experienced formal education before,' Tyson says.
The Bangkok School for the Blind assists blind elementary students to eventually transition to regular schools. Tyson hopes to establish a partnership with Monash, to enable other students to teach at the school.
‘The children are exceptionally bright, and hungry to learn,' Tyson says.
‘Teaching is a rewarding experience. It’s challenging, it requires effort and sometimes you won’t be thanked for your efforts.
‘Many of the children suffer from physical and mental impairments. Autism is common, with patience key in teaching a curriculum. But the impact that you can directly make on someone’s life makes it worthwhile.'
Tyson has drawn on his personal experiences in his work empowering marginal groups.
‘I come from a multicultural background. I used to feel ashamed of having a different ethnicity to those around me during my childhood. Sometimes it felt isolating, particularly growing up in regional Australia,' Tyson says.
‘Because of that experience, I feel a certain connectedness and empathy towards people of diverse and marginal backgrounds.'
MCMS Director Tony Moore, who nominated Tyson for the award, praised his leadership and hard work with MCMS student activities and initiatives. The MCMS program is the largest Masters course in the faculty.
‘Tyson has an ability to inspire and assist his fellow students, many of whom are international students new to Australia and our pedagogy,’ Tony says.
‘Last year Tyson represented the Faculty’s graduate students' Arts Education Committee, and he recently became a student representative for the MCMS' newly established student union, CAMPUS.
‘This organisation provides social activities, events and networking opportunities with media industry personnel, all of which are an antidote to the isolation and homesickness that our international student cohort might otherwise experience.’
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