Priyanka's Path: From Commerce to Law

By Seth Robinson

Finding a path to the future can be hard. Whether or not they have an end goal in mind, for many students, choosing a degree that gives them the flexibility to build skills and explore their interests is key. For Priyanka Banerjee, this choice led her to the Bachelor of Commerce. Now, she’s moved on to study the Melbourne JD (Juris Doctor).

Priyanka has a focused energy that she brings to the table with her. She’s on time to the second, orders her coffee with efficiency, and opens our chat with a charming, icebreaker smile. When she confesses her goal was always to study law, I’m not overly surprised, but like many great stories, Priyanka’s is about the journey, as opposed to the destination.

- Priyanka Banerjee

“I’ve always wanted to study law, it’s true, but there were other things and ideas I wanted to explore first. I’d actually taken a couple of classes at Melbourne as part of a high school extension program, so I was sort of familiar with the campus culture. I was impressed with the Melbourne model, it felt like it would give me a chance to expand my knowledge and build some expertise in something before I went on to study law.”

Studying her Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) at Melbourne, also allowed Priyanka to explore new areas of interest. “It gave me a chance to take advantage of things that I’d never studied in school, and probably wouldn’t have been able to learn independently, like computing, and philosophy. What really captured me once I got here though, was economics,” she says.

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“I decided to do my honours in economics and get some research experience under my belt. I focused on environmental and development economics, specifically looking at the impact of environmental projects that were hosted in India, and whether or not they did anything to alleviate issues like poverty and infant mortality.”

Now, a semester into the Melbourne JD, Priyanka feels her studies in the BCom have put her in a unique position, as part of a diverse group studying law.

“It’s surprising the range of backgrounds doing the program, there’s everyone from politics, to history, to performing arts and classical voice. I think my economics background has been really valuable, it’s given me a real insight into how all the parts come together within society, the law, politics, and some insight into why governments do the things that they do. It’s been a very multifaceted experience.”

For Priyanka, deciding what comes next at this stage is all about seeing where her studies take her, and the new pathways that open up. “I really want to practice law, but beyond that, I’m open to possibilities as they present themselves. I’m really interested in the public law, and the way that intersects with a background in commerce and economics, so perhaps an area like corporate crime? I think that’s a really interesting space, where you can see a lot of different disciplines intersecting and having an impact on the public interest.”