Global-focused degree helping students become citizens of the world

Cohort thrilled by internships, travel opportunities under Global Leaders Development Program

Isabella Panozzo had always considered herself a creative person. After studying drama in her final year of school, she thought she was destined for a life in the arts.

So, Isabella still laughs about the fact that she has just finished her first year of a Bachelor of Commerce Global (Honours), majoring in Finance, at the University of Wollongong (UOW).

“I had never considered studying commerce or business,” Isabella said. “I studied drama and geography for my HSC, but I always enjoyed maths.

“I had planned on doing a double degree in arts and law, but then I came to an information night at UOW and I found myself chatting to Professor Alex Frino [UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Strategy)] and he convinced me to give commerce a go.”

That decision has opened up a world of opportunities for Isabella. The 19-year-old is among the first cohort of students taking part in UOW’s groundbreaking Global Leaders Development Program (GOLEaD).

Under the program, which launched in 2018, 12 students will spend time living and studying at UOW’s global campuses, in Hong Kong, Dubai, and Singapore.

They are also provided with a wealth of work-experience opportunities, with multiple internships, facilitated by the Internship Unit in the Faculty of Business, woven throughout their four-year degree.

Participants can study undergraduate degrees in Commerce, Computer Science, and, in 2019, Commerce/Law. The aim is to create global-minded graduates with exceptional communication and leaderships skills that translate to the real world.

Isabella said she was intrigued by the program and knew it would be an incredible opportunity.

“I’ve always had a lot of extracurricular activities, in helping out with Rotary or volunteering with St Vincent De Paul, and I’m very passionate about social justice issues. When I completed a subject called Economics and Society, I realised I could use my degree to provide solutions to real-world problems.”

She has just completed her first internship, a six-week placement with Westpac, which she described as eye opening and a great chance for professional development.

“It was an opportunity that is often only available to graduates, so to be there as a first-year student was incredible,” Isabella said. “I learnt so much, particularly about women in business and leadership positions.”

The creativity inherent in commerce has been surprising to Isabella, and has enabled her to see how the foundations of the degree will provide a springboard to any future she can imagine.

“The course is really broad and flexible. There is even room for creativity. You can work in STEM, politics, arts, health care, sport – it’s full of possibilities.”

GOLEaD was developed by the University of Wollongong with the aim of creating truly global graduates with exceptional communication skills and industry experience.

Participants receive dedicated academic mentoring along with significant financial support for flight and accommodation expenses and travel grants valued at $50,000, making it one of the most financially attractive student programs in the state.

It was launched by His Royal Highness, The Duke of York, in September 2017, at UOW’s SMART Infrastructure Facility.

The GOLEaD program is the brainchild of UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Frino, who said at the time of the launch: “We are offering a globally unique undergraduate student program which will assist candidates with leadership potential to develop one of the most important leadership qualities of all – a global mindset”.

Isabella is about to embark on the next chapter in her adventure – spending 12 months studying at UOW’s global locations.

The 12 students will be placed at each location for three and a half months. It is an incredible opportunity for the participants, the chance to expand their world view, gain global experience, and immerse themselves in the cultures of their adopted homes.

“I’m really excited,” Isabella said. “We will all be living together in student accommodation. It’s the sort of opportunity that most students only dream of so I’m really excited that we get the chance to do this.”

Despite her initial perceptions of commerce, she loves her degree and said she is thrilled that she seized the opportunity provided by the Global Leaders Development Program. And she encourages future students to apply for the program.

“The skills and knowledge you acquire in commerce are transferrable to any industry, even to your personal life,” she said.

“The course only limits you as much as you limit yourself. I feel like it’s the same with most, if not all degrees – it’s what you make of it. Make it yours and do what you love.”

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