Elisa Salvador Figueroa

Elisa Salvador Figueroa

Elisa Salvador Figueroa

  • Student type: Domestic
  • Year commenced: 2020
  • Degree(s): Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Global Studies
  • Major(s): Environmental science

Why did you decide to study science?
Growing up, I was always asking questions despite how peculiar or difficult the answers were. My parents struggled to explain things like how we know the age of rocks, why giraffes have a long neck or why plastic is bad for the environment. As a curious mind, I began taking STEM-oriented courses and was eager to understand how the world worked. After transferring from an engineering course, I am fulfilling my childhood dream and seeking answers to the big questions!

What made you choose Monash Uni in particular?
Understanding the world around us is the first part of the equation. Monash courses are oriented towards using knowledge to create change and I think that's what makes science a noble pursuit. I am very passionate about using science as a driver for social and environmental justice, and Monash makes me feel like what I am studying is purposeful. Science is less about having your nose under a microscope and more about providing fact-based solutions to complex challenges. I have not been disappointed! There are plenty of opportunities to be part of research, education or projects where students can help to improve the lives of others.

What's your favourite aspect of studying science?
On the academic side of things, I adore those “lightbulb moments” where a concept just clicks and something mundane, like the clouds in the sky, makes sense. If you´re like me, you will probably go and explain what you just learnt to anybody who will listen. Engaging other people in science always brings a smile to my face.  However, my favourite aspect of science is the scientists themselves! I have had the opportunity to speak and learn from really kind people who also happen to be brilliant in their fields.

What has been the highlight of your science degree so far?
Lockdowns were pretty hard on all of us, but as an international student with no family in Australia, isolation hit hard. I was craving the warmth of a community, which I found in MAGES (Monash Atmospheric, Geosciences, and Environmental Society). The laughs, fun facts and support I received from other members was invaluable, so this semester I decided to run for president. I am currently working with an awesome committee and our school faculty to bring people closer together. Keep an eye out for our next sausage sizzle!

What's the biggest misconception you had about studying science before you started your course?
When I signed up for a double degree in Science and Global Studies, I didn't think that there would be much crossover between the two areas of study. It turns out that in order to be a good scientist you have to be an excellent communicator and to be a good policy advocate, you must understand basic scientific principles. Many of the problems I learn about, including acid mine drainage, climate change or famine, require me to use all of the tools I have gained from all of my units. I underestimated how much science is needed in every aspect of life, government and business. Research is only one of many avenues for modern scientists, and we come in all shapes and sizes.

If you were to give some advice to someone who's thinking about studying at Monash Science, what would you say?
Focus less on the name or structure of the course and more on the aspects that excite you about studying. Think of Monash University as an area in which you can try new things, so definitely follow your gut and choose something that sounds enjoyable to you. Don't be afraid to experiment in fear of making a mistake. One of the wonderful things about university is how easy it is to change units or courses if you are not finding them engaging. If your heart is set on Monash Science, kudos to you!  The way you learn to think in science can be extrapolated to any field or activity, even the most mundane. Monash is so flexible with the degree structure so the possibilities become endless. Think of your Bachelor of Science as a starting point for any career you´d like to pursue in the future.

Give us a life hack or piece of advice you live by:
A conversation can change a life, so keep chatting. Who knows? Maybe you can provide someone with relief at the end of a chat or you might walk away with a new opportunity. Connecting with other people who are studying or working in the same field as you is essential. However, personally, it's just as important to chat and be kind to people who are completely different from you. I speak to a perfect stranger at least once a week. They say that every mind is a world of its own, and talking is the best way to gain insight into a thousand different worlds. At the very least, you will end up with some fun stories.