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Family bond strengthened over CQUni study

Family bond strengthened over CQUni study

Published:08 November 2017

Top L-R: Studying STEPS at CQUni Mackay is a family affair this year. Pictured, from left, are Rebecca Schmidt and son Phillip MacNaughton and Annie and mother Veruschka Mighall. Bottom: Sisters Ashlee and Breana Chauntler enjoy studying Business together at CQUni Mackay.

If the thought of tertiary studies feels a little daunting, why not take ‘STEPS’ in the right direction and enrol in CQUniversity with someone who knows you best?

In Mackay, a handful of residents are reaping educational rewards by doing just that.

Veruschka Mighall and Rebecca Schmidt are presently undertaking CQUni’s STEPS (Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies) program alongside their greatest life supporters – their family.

STEPS provides a pathway for people wishing to gain entry to – and excel in – higher education.

Veruschka and her daughter Annie said that learning together brought excitement and a newfound sense of healthy rivalry to their relationship. Annie – who one day hopes to become a counsellor – is currently revelling in her latest success.

“I scored a Distinction-plus for my latest assessment, which was a better mark than mum,” she proudly proclaimed.

Being a mother of six, Veruschka enjoys the flexibility of her studies.

“I’m taking my studies at my own pace; if I need to cut back, I do; if I want to study faster, I can,” she said.

Veruschka is hoping her STEPS credentials will gain her entry into further studies in either education or nursing.

Right alongside the Mighalls, are Rebecca Schmidt and her son Phillip MacNaughton.

Both are inspired by Rebecca’s younger son Jay who’s juggling Electro-technology studies whilst completing Year 12 at Mackay State High School.

“While some sons would perhaps be embarrassed by studying with their mum, Phillip, thankfully, is not one of them,” Rebecca said.

“We look out for each other; although over the past year, Phillip has looked after me a lot more than the other way around.”

Rebecca has spent many months this year learning to walk again after a spinal injury; she credits her recovery to Phillip’s heroism and compassion.

“For a long time, I couldn’t walk up the stairs to my house, so I moved in with Phillip who took great care of me and his younger brother and sister (Zekinthia) while I was out of action,” she said, choking back tears.

“So essentially, I’ve learnt to walk again and now I’m learning how to learn again; and my family is my greatest motivation.”

Upon completion of STEPS, Rebecca wants to study Psychology, and Phillip – Medical Imaging.

“I’ve been borrowing Science texts from the library since I was 12 years old; I can’t wait to get started on a Bachelor’s degree,” Phillip said.

All of these students only need to look to sisters Breana (studying a Bachelor of Accounting/Bachelor of Business) and Ashlee Chauntler (Bachelor of Business) for inspiration.

Enrolling at the same university came naturally for the Chauntler sisters, who claim they’re often referred to as “two peas in a pod”.

“We do everything together – Scouts, tennis, music, travel, volunteer work – people even often mistake us for twins,” Breana said.

Not surprisingly, the girls live right next door to each other at the Mackay Student Residence on Ooralea Campus.

“I think having Ash living and studying alongside me is the best,” Breana said.

“With Ash by my side, I don’t miss home (Proserpine) as much because she’s right here with me.”

“I wish all of those family members starting their CQUni learning journey together the very best; it’s certainly working for us,” Ashlee added.

For more information on studying STEPS at CQUni, visit