University of Adelaide student receives Premier's Certificate

Oliwia Derda

University of Adelaide student Oliwia Derda was recently awarded a 2020 Premier’s Certificate for outstanding volunteer contribution. 

Currently completing the final semester of a Masters of Education degree, Oliwia was the joint winner of the 2019 Student Volunteer of the Year award and has been a PASS Volunteer since 2018 -  contributing hundreds of volunteer hours and benefitting hundreds of students.

About to complete her final year placement and head into a teaching career, Oliwia tells us a little about what this experience has meant to her.

What are the benefits of being a PASS Leader?

It’s a game-changer for leadership skills. I didn’t get involved volunteering until the middle of my second year of Uni and regretted not getting involved sooner. I wanted to have another thing on my CV because I was applying for jobs and internships and I wanted to stand out. But I stayed for the people that are involved and the different experiences. Now when I meet a first year student in PASS I tell them go and get involved in everything you can! I probably could have made time for other things, but PASS stole my heart away!

What lessons will you take from PASS into your career in teaching?

Relationships first of all. Building a positive community of learning where it doesn’t feel like you have to be there but you want to be there. Having an interest in motivation and being a positive face and someone to listen to is definitely something I will take away from PASS and that really showed me that I’m cut out to be a teacher and that I wanted to be a teacher.

For other PASS Leaders who won’t go into teaching, it’s communication skills, these great employability skills. (I don’t like when people call them soft skills because they’re hard to learn!)  

Leadership is probably the biggest lesson. We did a lot of leadership training and you take a lot of ownership of your role as well. It’s confidence building.

If you can handle a room with PASS students, then you’re on your way to handling a classroom?

A classroom. And, a boardroom, you know? You’re presenting an engineering project in front of 20 partners and you’re like, “I’ve got it”. Because I’ve done it. I’ve got that experience and those skills.

Oliwia with Hon Michelle Lensink

Oliwia receiving her award from the Hon Michelle Lensink, this year.

What are you enjoying most about your placement?

The kids. Even if they misbehave or have other things at home that are challenging I feel like I’m someone who can take their mind away with some science practicals or new science knowledge, something really interesting and help them out.  It’s pretty good. You’ve got to model passion!

What’s next?

I’m almost finished. Almost there. I finished my Science degree in 2018, and started my Masters in Teaching. I think Science teaching gives me a more rounded perspective. I got stuck on Biology and Biochemistry and now I have to study Ecology and Physics and Chemistry and all the topics I had to put away but I need to teach myself to teach others, but it’s cool because I like to learn a lot.

How do you fit everything in?

I think when you have something you really want to do, the procrastination goes away and you can kind of push through it, but also with PASS you’re not alone if you need help. It’s more a family and a community of students that help each other.

Tagged in #volunteering, #Premiersawardforvolunteering, #2020volunteering, #studentvolunteers