Shared experience

Alumnus Charles Lee (BE(Civ) 1982) is one of more than 400 alumni who volunteer on behalf of Monash University across the world. His experience at Monash, in particular the friends...

Alumnus Charles Lee (BE(Civ) 1982) is one of more than 400 alumni who volunteer on behalf of Monash University across the world. His experience at Monash, in particular the friends he made studying in Australia as an international student, has inspired an ongoing commitment to Monash University Alumni Singapore (MUAS) – an alumni network that supports more than 9400 Singapore-based alumni.

Charles Lee remembers his time studying at Monash with deep affection. As an international student, starting at the University was a great leap into the unknown. It was his first visit to Australia – in fact it was his first time in an aeroplane.

"I remember the excitement of landing in Melbourne for the first time; paper planes during my first lecture; camping in the Grampians; learning to play cricket; my first Australian Football League match cheering for Hawthorn; the best carrot cake in the uni deli; souvlaki in the city...everything," Mr Lee said.

Graduating with an engineering degree from Monash and working in the industry realised a dream Mr Lee had held since he was nine years old. His career has taken him from transportation planning in Malaysia to contract work in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. In 1997 he started his own engineering firm in Singapore – Improtech Pte Ltd – which specialises in soft soils consolidation, particularly land reclamation.

It is this experience and his time at Monash that has motivated him to stay connected to the University. Mr Lee has volunteered with MUAS for 14 years, joining the committee officially in 1997. He was the committee's president from 2007 to 2009. Through his leadership the group moved from a membership-based society to an all-inclusive network to which all alumni in Singapore can belong. He remains actively involved to this day.

"I studied at Monash from 1978 to 1982 and had a wonderful time," Mr Lee said.

"The shared experience of being in a new country and studying something I love ... but most of all it was the life-long friends I made. We are still meeting up anywhere and everywhere (including mountain climbing adventures). This motivated me to want to give back."

MUAS offers a range of activities to alumni – from theme dinners and other social events to professional networking opportunities and regional activities including competitive sports and cycling tours. The committee is also actively involved in promoting the University at the annual Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon. Mr Lee has been instrumental in encouraging Monash alumni to support the event – more than 500 alumni and friends took part in the marathon during the University's 50th Anniversary celebration s in 2008.

"I have always enjoyed meeting like-minded people," Mr Lee said."Our members are dedicated to working together and creating opportunities for alumni to connect. I also like the camaraderie; meeting new alumni and students and being able to act as an adviser and mentor."

Mr Lee believes that it is vital for alumni, particularly international alumni, to remain connected to fellow graduates through alumni networks and groups.

"It's very important for anyone, young or old, to be involved," he said. "Being part of an alumni group provides a network, a supporting network of people. With my frequent travels, I try and contact alumni in new places. The immediate connection you have with other alumni from just being a Monash graduate is amazing!"

Want to get involved in your local alumni network? Find out how.