Yuxuan Ma is from Beijing in China and was very surprised at being a recipient of the Achievement Scholarship for international postgraduate students.
Yuxuan is enrolled in the Master of Environmental Engineering Management.
"It's quite a surprise for me because I think I was always quite a 'naughty' child and my school results weren’t that great. So to now do so well and get the scholarship is wonderful. My parents wanted me to become independent at a young age so they sent me to Shenyang, Liao Ning Province, to do my undergraduate degree in environmental engineering. Shenyang is about 800km from Beijing so I had to get used to being on my own early on and only go home during the holidays. It was very frustrating at first – I had to do everything by myself but I learnt quickly! Shenyang gets very cold in winter, down to -20 degrees.
There were a lot of students from all over China which exposed me to a lot of different cultures and broadened my vision. After my undergraduate degree I worked for a few months at the Beijing Water Authority but I really wanted to go overseas to further my education in the area of water and waste treatment.
After studying at UNSW for a master's program, I decided to come to UTS to study the MEEM. Two of my friends also came with me and we’re doing the degree together – we study together but of course hand in separate assignments! The lecturers in the course have a very practical approach which I like; it's important for me to learn about centralised and decentralised services because in China a lot of communities, especially in rural areas, can't reach centralised services and there's a need to average out the services for all. UTS is a good place to study, the library is well equipped and the teachers guide me to think and solve – sometimes my thinking is a bit narrow and it helps to have discussions with the lecturer to show me different ways of doing things. I use the library quite a bit; they have a good collection of journals there.
Over the past summer holidays I went back to China and got a two-month internship with a government department – China Architecture and Design Research Group in their Environmental Sanitary Subsection. I was trained to design relating projects such as waste treatment plant for municipal solid waste, like transfer station, landfill site etc. It was really good training and I hope to be able to do this kind of work for the next three to five years there.
My aunt, whom I live with in Carlton (nearby Kogarah), encouraged me to read the Sydney Morning Herald online to learn about Sydney and Australia; reading about people exercising in Sydney and the necessity to do something about the environment has encouraged me to exercise more! As a student of the environment, I think I have to show responsibility and do as much as I can to help reduce waste. I do my best and as much as I can.
I think my parents have made a good choice by sending me here. When I go back to China and see my friends, I feel I'm much more independent than they are and more grown up. My parents definitely think I’m quite mature!"