Elizabeth Phan tried nursing, pathology, and even make-up artistry before she found her true calling. Her ‘lightbulb moment’ came when she recognised she loved helping to empower people, especially women, and enrolled in a Bachelor of Social Work.
“None of my previous roles ever felt quite right. I got too attached to clients as a nurse. I didn’t like working in labs as a pathologist. And I heard a lot of women share moments of sadness and fear from their partners as a makeup artist.
That’s when I realised what I really liked was empowering others and became interested in feminism and social rights.
I have lived in Melbourne’s west all my life, and in 2016, I decided it was about time I chose the university of the west and enrolled at VU.
Everything just clicked once I arrived at VU. I’d struggled at other universities, but VU’s support and its focus on diversity helped me thrive as an adult learner.
I got involved in activities outside the classroom too. During my studies, and even after, I worked as an adviser to new and prospective students at VU’s student contact centre, VUHQ.
I also participated in an intercultural leadership program, iLEAP, developed by VU’s Cultural Diversity Office in partnership with the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
When I graduated in 2019, I was ready to enter a profession I loved, but then COVID hit with its job losses and high unemployment.
I was getting lots of knock-backs, and after seven months, got only three interviews from 200 job applications.
I was so surprised that Victorian Premier Dan Andrews showcased my story on social media to acknowledge my resilience.
I’m thankful I’m now using my social work training and my Vietnamese language skills in my new role.”