Natalie D’Rozario moved to Australia from Bangladesh at age 17, finished VCE at high school and decided to enrol in Chisholm’s Bachelor of Engineering Technology.

She had always been good at maths, physics and analytical thinking, so engineering seemed like a solid career path.

When Natalie started, there were three females and about 30 males in the course.

“I like to challenge myself,” Natalie says. “I know it’s not very common for girls to do engineering, so I wanted to choose a pathway where I could challenge myself and prove to myself it’s something I could do.”

Natalie says throughout her studies she always felt supported by the lecturers, but she did feel she had to ‘prove herself’ to her peers.

“I guess in the start you do feel out of place,” she says. “With boys, people expect them to know about cars and welding. Being a girl, you kind of have to prove yourself. No lecturers treated us differently, but it’s just the environment where you have to make a stand for yourself and show that you’re one of them and you will succeed.”

Natalie says towards the end of her three-year degree, about half the males were close to the finish line, while all three young women persevered.

Not only that – they did extremely well in the course.

“Those girls are my best friends in the world; I love them so much,” Natalie says. “One of my friends, Rita, actually tutored many guys because she was one of the best students.”

Natalie was a star student herself at Chisholm. She achieved mostly High Distinctions and was nominated as Vocational International Student of the Year at the Chisholm Education Awards. She was also vice-president of the Chisholm Engineering Committee for two years, an initiative she and her friends came up with to improve the social offering for engineering students.

When Natalie is not studying, she works two part-time jobs as a pharmacy assistant. She’s looking forward to getting started in her industry when she graduates.

“My short-term goal is to get a graduate job and work as a sustainable engineer developing products that are good for the environment,” she says. “I want to work in the industry, get more exposure and apply the theory we’ve learnt in real life.”

However, in the long-term, Natalie plans to return to the classroom in a different capacity.

“I want to teach engineering – I think that’s more suited to me,” she says. “I tutored a lot during the course to younger semesters and to my peers too and I think I have the natural teacher vibe.”

Natalie says she’d love to inspire other young women to become engineers too.

“If this is what you’re passionate about, I don’t think your gender should affect what you want in life,” she says. “If you can think analytically and you can problem-solve, all you need is persistence. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, you have to be patient, persistent, work hard and not only meet the bare minimum, you have to put in extra effort.”