A future in the field
All images used with permission.
Amara Malawana knew she wasn’t cut out for a desk-based career, so she found a degree that aligned with her interests in law and psychology and would get her out in the field.
“I did work experience in Year 10 in the Emirates office in the city,” she said. “I was sitting down at a desk for the whole week, and I decided that I did not want that in my job.
“I want to be a criminologist or go into forensic sciences. I want to be out there in the field doing detective work or forensic work.”
Given that Amara is only one semester into a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, that future is some way off. But she’s excited to get started.
“I always knew I wanted to do something in law, but I didn’t know which field to enter,” said Amara, who applied to Australian Catholic University (ACU) through the ACU Guarantee early offer program.
“I was looking at a law and psychology degree, and then when they sent out the early offers, I had an offer for criminology as well. I thought that sounded way more interesting because I’ve always loved criminology and forensics.
“A lot of my family do law, and my grandpa was a criminal lawyer, but I think criminology was better for me because I like understanding psychology: why people do things the way they do, how they impact the community and how their community is affected.
“And at ACU, the focus is on the psychological and legal aspects of criminology, not just on the forensic sciences, the chemistry and the biology. It’s a really good fit for what I want to do.”
From school leader to uni ambassador
Amara went to a Catholic primary school and completed high school at Emmanuel College in the western Melbourne suburb of Point Cook. Both schools were “very much about community”, she said, an approach that was ideal for her – and helped her university application.
“At my schools, we were always talking about community and helping everyone. It was very community based,” she said.
“When I applied to ACU through ACU Guarantee, I had to submit my Year 11 results – which was a really straightforward process – and write a few hundred words about why I would be good at ACU and what impact I would make by studying there.
“I’d done leadership and social justice throughout high school since Year 7, and I was a Year 12 leader at my school, so the community aspect was quite easy for me to relate to and talk about.”
Amara’s leadership skills and friendly, outgoing nature has also helped her nab a paid position as an ACU Student Ambassador.
“I love student ambassadoring – I’m very happy that I found out about it during O Week,” she said.
“At the interview process, I got to meet so many different people in different years at university. And since I got the job, I’ve been on tours and talked to different year levels at school which I definitely enjoy. I had a tour yesterday with a bunch of Year 10 girls, who were asking what I did in Year 12 and what criminology was like, and I just find it really comforting when people come to me for advice.
“As a school leader, I was always talking to people, helping people out and giving tours around the school, so doing this at ACU comes as second nature to me.”
A good decision
Amara chose ACU because she knew some students there and had heard good things.
“My careers advisor sent out an email in mid-2021 with all the early offer programs to different universities,” she said.
“I applied though ACU Guarantee because I know a couple of people who go to ACU, and I just felt it was better than some of the other unis with these programs. I felt I would fit in a bit better here.”
One semester down, and Amara’s said she’s very happy with her decision.
“It’s been really good so far and I absolutely adore my criminology units. My teacher was really nice, which is something I was scared about because I’m used to the same ones. He always made sure we knew what we were talking about, and he’d extend the lessons to go over things if necessary.
“And we did an Indigenous health and culture unit in Semester 1 that I found really interesting. Our lecturer was Indigenous, so she gave us a more personal experience to what she was teaching, which was helpful.
“I find it very comforting that the university offers this course to make sure that everyone is looked after and safe. It’s offered to students in all the degrees in community-based areas – nursing, midwifery, speech pathology, OT. And I got to meet a whole lot of different people, which I loved.”
Explore our law and criminology courses and learn how you could get an early offer to ACU.