From Sri Lanka to the NT: Res alum Jonathan follows his passion

  • Blog
  • 3 min read
  • Posted January 2022

No two days are alike for Deakin alum and former on-campus resident Jonathan Gnanapragasam. From studying Sri Lankan Leopards to understanding how wars affect bird populations, and now working with Indigenous land owners and the government in central Australia, Jonathan has gained a wide range of career experience since graduating in 2016.

As Indigenous Protected Area Coordinator for Northern Tanami in the Northern Territory, Jonathan draws on a wide range of experiences, his Deakin degree and skills learned while living on campus to thrive in a complex environment.

In this role Jonathan works for the Federal government and collaborates closely with two Indigenous tribes and Indigenous Ranger groups. He leads conservation efforts in the protected area, helping to conserve native species, protect Indigenous cultural sites, minimise the impact of invasive species and more. Reflecting on the role, he says,

Overall it’s been a really good learning experience. The knowledge of some of the Indigenous Rangers I work with is amazing, including their tracking skills and how they read weather patterns.

Growing up in Sri Lanka watching David Attenborough and Steve Irwin documentaries and surrounded by a family of nature lovers, Jonathan was excited about the opportunity to travel to Australia and study Wildlife Conservation at Deakin. He found living on campus was an easy way to settle into his new life, saying,

Living on Res was convenient and a good way to get started, get to know people and make friends easily. My first-year roommates introduced me to AFL and helped me to settle into the culture. I like the way Res celebrated academic success as well as having a lot of fun.

While living on campus, Jonathan enjoyed sporting and social opportunities as well as the incidental benefits of learning to live with others, and believes that these elements have helped him succeed after university.

Jonathan excelled while completing his Bachelor of Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology), particularly enjoying the amount of field work and the practical emphasis in the degree. He has maintained a strong connection to the University through collaborative wildlife studies with Deakin academic Associate Professor Michael Weston.

Looking toward the future, Jonathan hopes to one day work with big cats in the Amazon or in Africa, however he says that any role where he can continue specialising in animal behavior and human/wildlife conflict would make him happy.

When asked what advice he gives to students thinking of studying at Deakin and living on campus, Jonathan says,

I recommend it! Deakin has a heavy emphasis on practical components which is a huge plus. The staff are always helpful including on Res and living on campus is a great way to acclimatise to Australia. Get involved in as much as possible and meet new people!

Explore to the Deakin Residential Services website to read more graduate stories and to find out more about life on campus: deakin.edu.au/live

Lived on Res and want to share your study/career story? Contact us via email today.

Written by

Profile photo of author Sam Johnstone
Sam Johnstone Manager, Experience and Engagement

Sam Johnstone is Manager, Experience and Engagement at Deakin Residential Services. With a background in engagement and student experience roles across Deakin and the wider Higher Education sector, Sam is passionate about supporting students to reach their full potential.

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