Open to debate

'You won’t be disappointed if you try your best,' says Jeremy Aviel Lijuwardi as he plans for a future studying IT and Law.
'You won’t be disappointed if you try your best,' says Jeremy Aviel Lijuwardi as he plans for a future studying IT and Law.

Of all his experiences at UTS Insearch, the memory that stands most for Jason Jeremy Aviel Lijuwardi is a class debate. It took place during an Advanced English class, part of his UTS Foundation Studies program. The subject – our aging population – had been selected by his class group. The debate fortified his interest in public speaking, and unlocked a passion for developing persuasive arguments. “It was quite a big moment,” he says.

After secondary school in Singapore, Jason made the big move to Sydney and enrolled in UTS Foundation Studies at UTS Insearch. He says “I chose it as a way to get to university faster. Initially, I was thinking about doing IT at UTS after that. We have a few relatives in Australia, and my parents lived there for a few years. We knew UTS had a focus on technology. That’s why I wanted to go there."

You won’t be disappointed if you try your best

He found it challenging at first, adapting to Australian culture. “Sydney and Singapore aren’t worlds apart,” he says, “but they’re still pretty different. I’m actually Indonesian, but I’ve lived in Singapore most of my life, so that’s my point of reference. It comes down to the little things, like how you address a teacher. It all takes some getting used to. Studying abroad can be lonely at first, but you make new friends. You meet new people. I had no strategy to cope other than just trying my best. I think, if you try your best – no matter what the outcome – you won’t be disappointed in yourself."

Trying his best certainly got results. Jason was the top student in his course, winning the Outstanding Graduate award for the highest Grade Point Average in his course. He was already back at home in Singapore when he got the news, and he told his parents right away. “They were very happy. Very proud,” he says. “I couldn’t really go out and celebrate though, because when I received the email we were all staying in our homes because of the coronavirus."

Discovering new interests

Although he originally intended to study IT, Jason discovered some new interests (such as debating) during his UTS Foundation Studies program. He now plans to return to Sydney for a double degree in IT and Law at UTS.

He says, “I’m attracted to the double degree because I’ve had an interest in computers, and technology in general, since I was very young. But I also think law is an important subject to learn, whether you pursue it as a profession or not, because it’s something that affects everyone. I would like to practise law. I want represent people who have nobody to speak for them in court. If, when I become a lawyer, I can help to prove or disprove something, based on evidence, I think that’s what matters."

For now, Jason’s university studies are on hold. As a Singapore Permanent Resident, he needs to complete his mandatory National Service first. “Meanwhile, I’m keeping up with my Sydney friends online,” he says. “We message, you know. It’s nice to stay in touch."

Ready to move on

Jason’s not losing sight of his goal. He says, “I just want to graduate with the degree I have in mind. UTS Insearch has helped me prepare for university, so I’ll be ready when I can move on with my studies. Looking back, I think the big skill I’ve learnt from my course was academic writing. I know, studying law, there’ll be a lot of writing – a lot of essays – and I’m confident about that now."

He has some advice for current students. “Try not to leave everything to the last minute. At the start, I left a lot of things to the last minute and that’s just not good for you. It will affect your sleep schedule – everything. Try to do things as soon as you can. If your deadline is 11.59, it’s no good submitting work at 11.58. Give yourself some breathing space."