“I felt like I was not challenged intellectually in the way I was delivering my teaching and facilitating learning for the students. Therefore, I applied for the Australia Awards Scholarship to study a PhD, so that I could do research and contribute to new knowledge in curriculum delivery,” says Dr Irene Semos, lecturer at Divine Word University (DWU).

The DWU Lecturer from Manus and Bougainville has a Master of International Public Health and recently obtained a PhD in Public Health from the University of Queensland (UQ) through Australia Awards PNG.

“Each of my parents have PhDs. They are my greatest inspiration.”

Irene was encouraged by her parents to “pursue dreams, based on passion and areas of interest.” Her motivation to obtain a PhD came from a desire not to be stagnant in her thinking and intellect. She thinks that as an academic, it is important to keep abreast of the latest research forming the evidence around the delivery of teaching and learning for DWU’s health programs.

“I was blessed and privileged to have been part of such an enriching experience where I have grown in knowledge, skills and confidence to continue my work as a lecturer and researcher at Divine Word University,” says Irene.

After her PhD studies, Irene initiated conversations on curriculum design and delivery for health workers in the faculty of public health at DWU. “Initiating such conversations requires a multidisciplinary approach that is very much suited to PNG’s context,” she says.

While studying in Australia, Irene participated in the Women’s Leadership Initiative, now known as Women Leading and Influencing (WLI). She was granted an opportunity by WLI to participate in an internship on ‘Learning to lead and influence health care curriculum and training’ with her Principal PhD Advisor, Associate Professor Matthews in December 2018 at the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, University of Queensland.

She says, “It is good to see how enthusiastic my colleagues, who are lecturers in my faculty at DWU, are toward applying for PhD studies after returning and sharing my experience with them.”

Irene encourages academic and research professionals in PNG universities and research institutions to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship to study a PhD.

“It always pays to remember that the PhD is a journey. At the start of the PhD journey, we are learning to do the PhD, we are not PhD holders yet.”