What challenges did the transition from secondary to tertiary education present for you?
High school was a difficult time for me. My dad was very sick, so when I finished secondary school, I wasn’t ready for more study, lacked any financial support, and didn’t want to move too far away while my dad was unwell. So instead, I remained in Ballarat to support my family. I worked for a total of seven years, and during this time I learnt much about myself, however, I often wondered if I would ever have the courage to return to study. I worried about not fitting in with younger peers, the financial strain of university, and whether I was making the right career decision.
I am now well into my second year of teaching and am enjoying it immensely. I am glad that I made the decision to return to study, even though the path has not always been a smooth one. I feel supported by the university community and am excited by all of the career opportunities that have opened up right before my eyes. I am excited about becoming a teacher and the ways in which I will be able to help children to learn and grow in the future.
How did the GAF scholarship help address these challenges?
When I received this scholarship, I immediately got the internet connected, bought all my textbooks, and upgraded my computer memory and function to be able to handle the demands of the internet. Internet access became a lifeline to university, as I was able to research, download lecture notes and study from home. I knew before I attended university that making ends meet would be difficult, but I think that many people underestimate the financial strain of full-time study.
At times it is an adventure, going into the supermarket, knowing that I have exactly $5.85 cents to my name, and stretching that as far as I can! At other times it is a stress, but receiving the scholarship has certainly helped me to keep my head afloat this past year and a half.
Has the scholarship brought other benefits? Any benefits you did not really expect or anticipate?
As I sat in the audience of the Awards ceremony this year and watched this year’s recipients receive their awards, I was reminded of how far I have come and where I am headed. I felt an enormous sense of pride in what I had achieved and wanted more than anything to lead by example; one day I want to teach children what is possible if you set your mind to it and believe in yourself. I felt supported, inspired to make a difference, and confident in my capabilities.
Are you still active in your community and has this changed since you received your GAF scholarship?
Studying full-time has certainly limited how much spare time I have. These days I am involved in my community in varying roles. My employers have nurtured my love for drama and music, and I currently teach singing and drama at local primary and secondary schools. I am the team captain of my local athletics club, and we train and compete regularly.
At university I am a member of the Peer Leadership Program. We work with the student support services to assist first-year students settle into university life, and to help identify students who may need extra help.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years and what will you be doing?
In 10 years' time I will have been teaching for almost eight years. I hope that I never stop learning or questioning the way I teach. I hope to experiment with the arts and their links to literacy, numeracy and engaging children in the curriculum. I am also very interested in the therapeutic nature of music and art, and the way that this can be incorporated in the classroom. I hope to empower children; to help them to be confident of their own capabilities, and to be aware of the power of believing in oneself.