Driven by passion, an enterprising spirit, a hard-work ethic, genuine humility and a noble pursuit, RMIT student Renée Gaspar is working to realise her dreams while helping others realise theirs.
Alongside juggling a Bachelor of Science (Applied Chemistry)/Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) (Honours) double degree and a Bachelor of Software Engineering at the same time, Renée is also making the most of the opportunities that initially drew her to RMIT.
“When I was in high school, I took part in several universities’ programs to find out where I could achieve my dream to be an engineer. I met various people who recounted their experiences to me with honesty and without any filter. Through these conversations I found out that RMIT University has the most practical, hands-on approach in its engineering programs, which was crucial for me to become a work-ready engineer.”
Renée’s experiences at RMIT have opened doors to help her pursue her dream.
Now, as a member of the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) and president of RMIT’s Society for Women in Information Technology (SWITCH), Renée is working with teams of strong role models to support girls and women to realise their potential and passion in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and create a world in which we no longer need to talk about the gender divide in STEM.
“In spite of facing ridiculous amounts of work from three degrees, I can always find in me the strength to keep pushing and the empathy to keep on giving,” says Renée.
From the time she started her studies, Renée understood the old saying: You reap what you sow. She’s prepared to put in the hard work and go the extra mile to see her dreams come to fruition.
“I observed what the best students were doing and what alumni had done to reach success. I noticed a pattern of them tackling external projects with industry and immersing themselves in leadership programs. So, I did all of that and more – and I continue to serve as a president at RMIT SWITCH and foster a welcoming community for all female and female-identifying students in RMIT and other universities.”
While her hard-work ethic and passion has led Renée to achieve great things, she has faced challenges along the way. But she reminds us that keeping sight of the end goal, having supportive networks around us and recognising wins along the way all keep us motivated to keep striving towards the greater good.
“As a woman, and as a woman of colour, even in this day and age there have been obstacles thrown my way where I’ve just had to face them head on. Surrounding myself with peers who go through the same experiences is important to build supportive professional and personal networks along the journey.
“There have been days when people’s backwards ideas hurt but I have a dream and I stay focused on that. And sometimes situations remind you why you need to keep going.
“The biggest reward I received was when I volunteered for Superhero Daughter Day in March 2018. At the last minute, I agreed to demonstrate an educational app for girls aged 5 to 12. A girl took me aside and said, “Before, I hated maths, but after playing with the robots and programming, I love it!”. It’s moments like those that you hold close to your heart and which remind you of what you’re working towards.”
Keeping all this in mind, Renée left us with this advice for students coming to study at RMIT.
“Take an elective outside of your chosen field of study. Join a club to learn and connect with people. Keep an open mind about how you will approach and plan your career – it’s not a linear path anymore and you often don’t even have to sit in lecture halls if you don’t want to.
“And remember to be kind … to yourself and to others! You’ll be fine!”
You can read more about Renée’s experiences on her LinkedIn blog.
Find out how you can get connected while you study. Visit www.rmit.edu.au/getconnected