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Past student Annalisa Cercone (Class of 2012) has enjoyed a rich and varied career in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

When I finished school, I didn’t know exactly how my career would look. I knew I wanted it to be meaningful and purpose-driven, but the jobs I’d work were not necessarily clear.

Studying a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne was the perfect choice for me. I was able to continue the breadth of my studies at Ivanhoe Girls’ and delve deeper into my favourite subjects through my Criminology and Media and Communications majors. Throughout my degree, I was constantly in awe of the academic world and its abundance of knowledge. In my final year I was able to contribute to it through my Honours thesis on parenting programs in prisons, a topic I was extremely curious about.

I kept my university life as active as possible. I was involved in a range of clubs and initiatives, all things that kept up the Music, Drama, Sport and Service that I did at school. In my final year I ran the Melbourne University Italian Social Club and led many internal and external Italian-related initiatives. I also worked for the Faculty of Arts and helped to coordinate student support programs. I loved my university years and will forever cherish all the memories and friendships made.

After submitting my thesis I was straight into my career as a Victorian public servant and I feel proud to be supporting our great state. Building on my tertiary studies, part-time work, internships and some volunteering, I started work in the Office of the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) through the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) Summer Internship Program. Throughout my roles across the portfolio I spoke at community events, presented to international delegates and managed a suite of programs and initiatives while supporting the Premier, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, departmental executives and the VMC Chairperson.

I currently work in DPC’s Aboriginal Affairs portfolio and have been blessed with work opportunities I could never have imagined.

At age 23 I managed my first state event, and have since managed several others at Government House, Parliament House and the Shrine of Remembrance. I’ve led cross-portfolio projects with veterans’ affairs, youth and education, including the first Victorian Government scholarship program specifically supporting Aboriginal students in Years 9 and 10. In addition to the random briefings, correspondence, policy and speaking notes that I write, I also manage several big contracts and external advisory committees. I have travelled to parts of Victoria I had never before visited and have supported the Victorian Government’s groundbreaking work towards treaty.

It is an honour to work in a space that is committed to self-determination and empowering Aboriginal communities. We are so lucky to be surrounded by the world’s oldest living culture and I feel so blessed to work with our first peoples on a daily basis.

I also love working in this portfolio because my own Italian culture is so important to me. I have travelled back and forth to Italy since finishing university and been based there to study art, food history, linguistics and culture. A couple of years ago I set out to learn a dish from every region in Italy and from this sparked my love for traditional regional cooking. I now contribute to an Italian radio station and write about food history and culture. I am also part of a Tarantella dance troupe and perform traditional southern Italian dances at festivals and events around Victoria. My first performance was at the Piers Festival in Port Melbourne - an absolute privilege to perform where my grandparents first arrived in Australia.

I recently launched a podcast series where I chat to Melbourne Italians about how they promote their culture and heritage. I also just started a food business where I make traditional sweets from Napoli, the part of Italy that my maternal grandparents are from. 

Since completing my Duke of Edinburgh Award at school, I have maintained my involvement with the program and continued my passion for service. I have run education programs for students in Melbourne with culturally diverse backgrounds and worked overseas at a camp for children with special needs. I’ve also been involved with initiatives that support girls’ empowerment, as well as those that empower refugees and asylum seekers.

Life's a journey and we’re always learning. I think if the passion, the will and the drive are there, all the technical stuff will work itself out. You need to just be willing to have a go and embrace any opportunities that come up.