CQUni Knows Cait
My name is Cait Darmody. I’m studying a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) at CQUniversity and I was awarded a CQUniversity Equity Scholarship.
I’m from North Lakes in Brisbane. I left school when I was 15 and I’ve had lots of jobs, but they were just jobs. I wanted to find something that was really fulfilling and to feel like I was contributing to something. It took me a long time to narrow it down to find something I wanted to do.
I have an interest in social, political and human rights issues, particularly the inequalities within the way society is organised. I like the idea of empowering people to overcome social and structural barriers, navigate difficulties and find or follow their own passions, as well as strengthening communities and actively participating in social and structural change through carrying out social work activities.
I like working with like-minded people and contributing to a disciplinary field which I’m proud of. It’s nice to feel like you’re getting something back from what you’re doing, as well as finding meaning. We’re all trying to find meaning in life. That’s pretty much what we do, isn’t it?
My grandmother is a real inspiration for me. She lost her husband at a really young age and raised 12 children on her own while running a farm. She was also really active in her community. Eventually, she travelled all over the world, and I think she just never said never. She would find a way to overcome anything if there was something she wanted or something someone in the family wanted or needed. She was really hard-working – one of those go-getters.
I actually chose CQUni because there was a campus where I live. I was in Noosa at the time and it was convenient for me. I could go and study there during the day and use the library, as I didn’t have the Internet at home. It has opened up my life and I feel like I have a lot more potential and more possibilities. Since studying, bit by bit I’m getting closer to realising my goals. Even though I’m time-poor, stressed and super busy, it’s nice to feel like I’m working towards something. I’m trying to let go a little bit, but it’s not easy.
I think education is power. But when you hear people talk about education, often it’s spoken of as a gift or a privilege. But in truth, you only have to look at the vast inequalities in accessing education and also in the quality of education that individuals can access to say that it’s mostly a gift of the privileged.
An education provides people with the tools to better participate in society in a way that is meaningful to them and to engage, participate and potentially influence public discussions. So, not only does education have the power to facilitate the advancement of the interests of individuals, it advances the interests of groups, communities and society as a whole.
I recognise the inequities in accessing educational institutions and I plan to make use of the resources available to me, resulting from my studies, to promote the rights of individuals, groups and communities in accessing an equitable education which enhances their ability to reach their full potential.
Being a mature age student and going back to study is not an easy thing because you have already established responsibilities and expenses – it’s a huge leap of faith. It’s not something that people take lightly. Obviously, you do it for a better outcome. I applied for the scholarship because I needed the financial assistance being a full-time mum. At the time, my son was still really young and so it went a long way to contributing towards his childcare.
After speaking with one of the library staff at my local campus in Noosa, she encouraged me to apply. I did and I’ve never looked back. I probably checked my email every day waiting for the news, one way or the other. I was so relieved. So yeah, it does help a lot. I’ve applied for it every year since and it has really helped me. I mean, there’s always going to be ongoing costs around tests and travel accommodation and childcare, residential school and that sort of thing.
My living expenses increased, as they do every year when you’re renting, and all the rest of it got to the point where I just couldn’t afford to stay there any longer, and I ended up back at my mother’s in Canberra. Since moving away, I’m now connected to the internet, so that’s provided me with a lot more flexibility in accessing my course and being able to study when I can and as I need to do it.
I think that the scholarship is a real game-changer for other women like me. The scholarship has had a huge impact: I wouldn’t have been able to attend residential school and I would have had to drop courses because of the cost associated with attending. You’ve got transport, accommodation and expenses, like lunches and childcare while you’re not home. My computer also started glitching, so I had to buy a new one. Anything like that would have been impossible.
I couldn’t be more grateful for my scholarship assistance, just for the fact that there are people willing to invest in whoever needs the help. If education is power and the greater number of people that have an interest in accessing tertiary education can, everyone’s better off as it raises the standard of living overall and society prospers.
What we’re talking about goes a long way in tackling inter-generational disadvantage and helping those students that wouldn’t be able to attend university without a scholarship. I think it would be good to see more scholarships for mature age students and within different disciplines. It isn’t an easy thing to go back to once you are established and have responsibilities. There’s always that focus on school leavers and the workforce from that end – a concentration within funding young people entering the workforce, but we’re all working a lot longer now and I feel greater diversification within is called for.
It’s funny because when I left school at 15, I never thought about it. It wasn’t like it wasn’t a possibility for me to go to university back then. You do take things for granted more when you’re younger as well. So, when I did come back, I was just focused on doing what I had to do. It was a huge learning curve for me. It can be hard to get back into that headspace of being a student again.
I think scholarships are a really important thing. Applying for the scholarships is really easy and straightforward. I would definitely encourage students to look into it and see what’s out there for them, because once you look there is quite a bit on offer, so I would definitely encourage others to apply for them. You don’t know what you’re missing. Somewhere, someone has to get them. You’ve just got to put yourself out there and see what comes your way.
I had never thought of myself as scholarship material, which is probably stupid because I’ve probably surprised myself in how well I’ve done in my studies and how far I’ve come. So, you don’t know until you try. I think we have a tendency to undervalue ourselves a little bit and it’s not like that. Scholarships aren’t just about the cream of the crop, which is what I thought.
When you choose to do something like this and you’ve given up so much in order to be here, it’s a massive amount of effort. But there’s nothing I’ve given up that I’d change in pursuing my studies to get to where I want to be.