Melissa Duffy in Ulaanbaatar

CHL student of the week: Melissa Duffy

26th April 2018

Melissa Duffy’s lifelong passion for Northeast Asia has led her to ANU not once, but twice.

In the 1990s she studied a combined Bachelor of Asian Studies/Science degree with a Korean Language major, and undertook a year-long exchange to Korea University in Seoul.

After graduation Melissa worked in the university and private sectors, eventually forging a successful career path in the Australian Public Service (APS), where she currently works as a Senior Policy Officer in the Trade and Market Access Division in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Melissa decided to delve into study again to update her knowledge of regional North East Asia affairs and complement her understanding of the global trading system. After researching the available options for flexible and high-quality postgraduate study, she enrolled in the Master of Asian and Pacific Studies (MAPS).

‘I found the quality of the teaching and variety of topics and modes of study offered at ANU impressive,’ she says.

The flexibility offered by ANU proved crucial for Melissa, who gave birth to two children and juggled carer responsibilities during her degree. While balancing work, parenting and studying was a challenge, both the academic and administrative staff provided her with the support that has enabled her to thrive. She also attributes her achievements to the flexible work-life culture practiced by her current workplace.

Melissa is a hard-working student who has embraced the opportunity to learn from leading experts on the Asia-Pacific, including Professor Li Narangoa, Associate Professor Ruth Barraclough, Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki and Dr Jack Fenner.

One of the highlights of her degree was an intensive two-week study tour of Mongolia. She took Mongolian language lessons, met with government officials and senior representatives from agricultural research, emergency management, and the mining and fashion industries. The tour included visits to the Australian Embassy, archaeological sites, community-based sustainability projects and local herding communities.

‘At the start of MAPS I would never have imagined myself studying in-country in Mongolia, but that’s what the program does. It opens up new experiences, opportunities to network and ways to enhance personal development,’ Melissa says.

The knowledge and skills that Melissa has gained from her degree have transferred directly into her work in the APS.

‘My postgraduate studies at ANU have strengthened my understanding of global trade patterns and systems, current food security, environmental and geopolitical issues and have specifically developed my expertise on Northeast Asia.’

Melissa’s Korean language skills have proved effective when navigating cross-cultural exchanges at home and overseas. She hopes to impart her passion for Asian language learning on to her children, and is currently teaching her daughter Korean.

Her message to working parents is that no matter how overwhelming a degree might appear, the support is there to get you through.

‘The world class support services provided by the ANU made my academic journey enjoyable and feasible. I am excited about what the future will hold following graduation.’

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