PEOPLE: JOHN MONASH SCHOLAR – Hannah Gandy

Can you tell our readers what a normal day looks like for Hannah Gandy? 

Each day for me is unique. I usually complete anything I need to do for the day first, whether it’s work, study, something for my community, or general life admin. I’m about to start a new job as a Senior Liaison Officer at the Centre for Multicultural Youth, so that might change my routine a bit. Most of the time when I finish what I need to do for the day, I skate with friends, teach a skate class, or train by myself.  

How important is diversity to you and in the work that you do?

I have always taken on roles that work towards reducing disadvantage faced by young persons, and that support those who face exclusionary barriers. I work for Banyule Youth Services as a youth worker, and also worked for the School Partnerships Program at La Trobe University, introducing young persons from disadvantaged backgrounds to further education. I have also volunteered tutoring and mentoring young persons with complex needs, and volunteered for Legal Action for Afghanistan. 

This year I completed a Bachelor of Laws/ Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics at La Trobe University alongside a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. I am now awaiting admission as a lawyer. I chose these fields because I am passionate about the relationship between law and youth, and how law impacts youth in areas like education, employment, health, and through family and criminal law. I was recently selected as the 2022 Victorian Government John Monash Scholar to study a Master of Laws specialising in Law and Social Justice at University College London. I hope to have a further impact in the future so that young persons of all backgrounds have positive role models, opportunities, and are treated fairly by the law. I believe this is important for diversity and inclusion.

Have you ever faced challenges in your professional career from others because of your identity and if so, how were you able to overcome that?

Young persons from diverse backgrounds face challenges in all areas of life, and professional life is no exception. Coming from a difficult childhood of homelessness, violence, and dysfunction, I became disengaged in education and missed most of years 7-10 of high school. The mainstream education system further disadvantaged me, as it focused on academic performance rather than prioritising overall wellbeing. I overcame this with the help of teachers at the Pavilion School, who provided me the correct supports to believe in myself and helped me become the first student to ever graduate and receive an ATAR from the school. I have been extremely privileged to access tertiary education and professional opportunities unlike so many of my peers, and my lived experience with young persons from diverse backgrounds continues to push me to be a positive leader and voice for others. 

ADVICE FOR THE YOUTH

Listen to people that believe you can do anything, because they are right. A high school teacher said to me “you are going to be a lawyer one day” when that seemed impossible. It’s also important to reflect on your own impact at every level and understand the influence that you have on others, especially as someone from a minority background. Whilst I have worked with countless young people over the years, everyday interactions that helped me notice my own impact remain some of the most meaningful – such as when a young person said “I could be anything, I could even be a lawyer” on the bus to me one random day 5 years ago. 

Want to follow and support Hnnah ?

The best place to connect with me is LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-gandy-2b5a11214 . If you are interested in inline skating, my Instagram is @_hannah_skate .