“IF I WERE TO SUM UP MY EXPERIENCE, IT WOULD BE ‘EYE-OPENING’. I’VE LEARNT SO MUCH.”
Hailing from Bendigo, Monica Wellington moved to Geelong to study at Deakin University after finishing High School. After studying a Bachelor of Health Sciences, Monica completed her Master of Dietetics. When asked about why she chose that particular avenue of study, Monica said she had “an interest in health, particularly nutrition” and that she “wanted to help people in a way that was meaningful in their lives”.
When Monica received an internship with Sexual Lives & Respectful Relationships in 2015 through Interns@Deakin, it grew into an amazing opportunity. Originally she was tasked with reviewing the SL&RR manual – but the team loved her work so much, they kept her on!
With a desire to help people for the better, the SL&RR became a perfect fit. Monica has been an Admin and Research Assistant in the National Team for three years.
“THE WORK THAT WE’VE DONE HAS GIVEN ME A LOT OF INSIGHT, AND OPENED MY MIND UP TO A DIFFERENT WORLD, WHICH I’VE LOVED EXPLORING.”
As part of the team, Monica has contributed to research articles, attended and assisted with site training, and planned and facilitated important events. But the tremendous amount of work she does can’t be encapsulated in a sentence. “Monica is such a valuable member of our team, and wonderful to work with,” a colleague says of her work. “She cares so much about the SL&RR community, and is a big part of empowering people with intellectual disability in our program.” When speaking of memorable moments in the program, Monica says organising and being a part of the last two SL&RR Conferences has been an “amazing highlight” for her—but most of all that the experience is made by the people. “I’ve met so many new faces, and [made] lots of new friends,” she reflects.
“STICKING UP FOR NOT ONLY [ONESELF], BUT OTHER PEOPLE WHO MAY NOT HAVE AS GREAT A VOICE AS OTHERS … IS PRETTY INSPIRING AND POWERFUL.”
When speaking of someone who inspires her, Monica notes Malala Yousafzai for her “courage and resilience”. Yousafzai is an activist for female education, and the youngest recipient of the Noble Peace Prize; the Taliban attempted to assassinate her because of her advocacy for girls’ education, but she survived. Monica admires Yousafzai’s strength and perseverance, and says she admires that “against all odds, she’s sticking up for not only herself, but other people who may not have as great a voice as others. I think that’s pretty inspiring and powerful.”
Discussing her goals for the future, Monica hopes to “continue building on [her] knowledge about research” and one day “pursue a PHD in the Disability/Nutrition space”. She attributes her interest and passion for these goals has grown from her involvement in SL&RR. “I’ve learnt a lot of new things [through my role with SL&RR],” she reflects. “I hope SL&RR continues their good work in the next few years, and that I can be a part of that.”
– Georgina Morrison 2019