Rowan Brookes is the Director of Education at the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University. As part of our series, Where Great Careers STEM From, we talk to Rowan about her STEM career and where a STEM education can lead graduates of the future.
My career path has been anything but clear or linear. You could say that I fell through most of the cracks when I was younger. In my teens, I found a sense of inner courage, which prompted me to look for experiences where I could build my networks and confidence.
Although I was not at university at the time, I joined up to clubs and societies at my local university and found people that helped me see the value I had to offer.
Through that experience, I got to the stage where I was ready to put myself forward for opportunities, so that was when I enrolled into university. At university, I really found my tribe, and my stride in life.
Monash academics on where a STEM education can lead graduates of the future. Supplied: Monash University
I completed two degrees in New Zealand and then moved to Melbourne, Australia to undertake my PhD at Monash. While I was doing my PhD I started teaching on the side, and I found that I really loved teaching.
So after my PhD I entered into a career focused on science education. For me, my life was transformed through education, so now being able to educate others and see how it transforms their lives is a fantastic experience.
[The] Chief Scientist of Australia has said that STEM will have an important role in 75 per cent of our jobs in the future.
Globally, the challenges we face include infectious diseases, climate change and food security, so we really need people who are skilled in STEM to solve those big challenges. To achieve this, it’s about taking STEM skills and knowledge and applying it to different industries and contexts.
That’s part of what we teach in Monash’s Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges, which is an Australian-first disruptive science degree. We focus on industry engagement, leadership and entrepreneurship in addition to the usual science major.
This degree aims to layer on an additional skill set for talented and committed science students so they can take science out of the lab and into other areas of society that science hasn’t traditionally impacted in.
This material was produced by Monash University.