"It's our choice to succeed, mothers can achieve their study goals".
Elakkiya was nervous when she decided to uproot her life, leaving India and her husband, to study a Master of Data Science at UNSW with their 20-month old daughter. Elakkiya was initially anxious by the unfamiliar surroundings and adjusting to Australian culture. Daily tasks such as buying groceries and being the sole carer for baby Deshna were daunting at first.
“I was scared, but I would often tell myself – this is my choice. I am here because this is what I want to do. I am doing this for me.”
Despite the fears she once had, she has now settled into her life in Australia. She credits the adjustment to the support of staff and fellow students at UNSW. “My Professors understand that students may be parents, carers, with commitments outside of university.” Elakkiya was able to sit a 6pm exam at an earlier time, as it would have been impossible to find childcare for Deshna. Friends babysit her daughter during lectures, or when she needs to check up on an experiment. “Everyone on-campus knows Deshna.”
Elakkiya believes the barriers in front of us can be knocked down and is passionate about women recognising their potential to achieve their goals.
“It’s our choice to succeed. Being a mother is not a ‘no’ but rather a moment to think - how can I make this work for me? If I can juggle full-time studies, take care of my daughter and be away from family – anything is possible.”