Irene Chandra- FS Alumna Tutors International and Indigenous Students

Irene Chandra (TCFS 2012), originally from Indonesia is currently in her final semester of a Master of Engineering (Chemical) degree at the University of Melbourne. Irene is a mathematics tutor in the Bachelor of Science Extended and a former tutor at Edith Head Hall.

We caught up with Irene to discuss her experience studying in the Foundation Studies program, her transition from student to tutor, and her upcoming move to Perth to pursue a career in oil and gas at Woodside Energy.

In 2012, Irene completed the Foundation Studies program in the February Main intake, an important ‘stepping stone’ on her journey to studying Bachelor of Science at the University.

‘I really enjoyed the core subjects in the Foundation Studies program. I didn't think that I would enjoy reading Shakespeare until I met Literature teacher Mark Nixon, his teachings inspired me to enjoy literature from a different perspective, the program truly broadened me in that sense,’ says Irene.

Irene was chosen as Valedictorian, and took the opportunity to encourage her peers to pursue their passions, a sentiment she believes is just as important today.

‘I really enjoy what I do at university, and I definitely look forward to working life in the area that I’m passionate about. It keeps me going through the continuous assignments and some sleepless nights in the engineering building, it’s the passion that drives you to push beyond your limit.’

Since graduating from Foundation Studies, Irene who completed high school in Singapore has worked and studied in a number of places including on a research scholarship in the United States, research exchange in China, returning to her hometown in Indonesia to undertake an internship as well as interning at Woodside in Perth.

‘Travelling broadens one’s perspective and it really helps you as a person in terms of your development. It teaches you to adapt to different situations, and for me as someone who is passionate about education, there’s a lot to learn from these places.’

In 2015, David Collis, Program Coordinator of the Bachelor of Arts Extended (BA Ext) and Mathematics Lecturer within the Bachelor of Science Extended (BSc Ext), approached Irene with an offer to tutor BSc Ext students through the Murrup Barak Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development.

Based on the BA Ext model, the BSc Ext extends the first year of the Science degree over two years, and inserts a range of transition subjects to help provide students with a stronger academic base. These transition subjects cover various areas of science involving mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and a range of other areas.   

Irene went from tutoring predominately international students at Edith Head Hall to Indigenous students in the BSc Ext program.

It was the insight that all students have their own personalities which has helped Irene relate to the students on an individual level.

‘I don't think there’s a big difference if you’re an international student, Indigenous or a non-Indigenous Australian. All my students, both the international and local students, are wonderful individuals with their own unique personalities and I have been fortunate to tutor each one of them.’

Irene is looking forward to completing her degree, and has been offered a job with Woodside Energy in the oil and gas industry in Perth. 

Upon completing University, she plans to spend several months travelling back to Indonesia and then going on vacation before starting a new chapter in her life.

Irene is passionate about Chemical Engineering and is interested in connecting with other Chemical Engineers around the world.  If you would like to connect with Irene you can via email at


05 Oct 2017
Category: People