James Cook University Student, Shahin Ghanei, has always had a passion for volunteering and supporting the community, so when it came to selecting a degree, a Masters in Social Work was the perfect choice.

Originally from an IT background, Shahin had an interest in helping people, so decided to follow his passion and make a career change. “It was a time in my career when I just wasn’t interested in that type of job anymore. I had been doing some volunteer work with youth and I found that I was really passionate about that.”

Whilst studying at James Cook University’s Townsville campus, Shahin had the opportunity to undertake a placement in Mount Isa. “One of the placement coordinators mentioned that there were placement opportunities in Mount Isa, and because the Centre for Rural and Remote Health offers great support, I jumped on it.”

Like most students who undertake rural placement, Shahin initially had some reservations. “At first I wasn’t too sure, it didn’t seem very exciting, but then I got to know it better and had the opportunity to travel to some remote communities, such as Mornington Island. I also got to experience working in a unique centre, Topsy Harry, which is the only one in Queensland for homelessness that is run by the government.”

Shahin enjoyed his placement in Mount Isa so much that he decided to make Mount Isa his home and complete his degree locally. “I was studying in Townsville, but after I came for my placement, I decided to stay because I felt like I would be able to get a better experience in the field of social work here locally.”

In addition to his studies, Shahin is involved with Headspace and Young People Ahead, an organisation in Mount Isa that supports local youth.

Shahin has also settled into life in Mount Isa, enjoying the relaxed pace and numerous social activities. “At first it can be intimidating because of the remoteness, but I've found that you can pretty much get what you need here. There are plenty of activities during the winter - you’ve got plenty of races, with the rodeo and the camel races and other activities. It’s also a very diverse community. There are a lot of people from all over the world here.”

Upon completion of his degree, Shahin would like to pursue a career in youth justice or mental health, and is confident that his Mount Isa experience will help get him there. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities here that I wouldn’t have had if I was in Townsville or elsewhere.”

By Courtney Quast

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