From STEPS to a Bachelor of Nursing, first-year students embrace how far they’ve come

Published:02 December 2019

CQUni Bachelor of Nursing students Karlisle Oldaker (left), Elyse Thompson, and Tara Beare.

Karlisle Oldaker, Elyse Thompson, and Tara Beare recently completed their first year of CQUni's Bachelor of Nursing course and they can't wipe the smile off their faces.

The ladies started their university journey with CQUni’s Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) course, embracing the learnings that would ultimately set them up for success.

For Tara, her decision to enrol with CQUni came about while working as a casual coal train driver, after maternity leave.

“Although I loved driving trains pre-children, I was in a job I no longer enjoyed. While on maternity leave, I lost my identity under the ‘mum banner’ and had no idea of where I wanted to go in life,” Tara said.

“My father was then diagnosed with cancer. One day, while I watched on as one of the wonderful nurses made my dad smile, something clicked. I become very overwhelmed and soon realised that I, too, would like to help others."

Tara graduated high school with no intention of pursuing tertiary studies. Therefore, as a mature-aged person commencing university, she doubted her ability from the get-go.

“I heard about STEPS and attended an open day, where I learned how to work toward my Nursing qualification. STEPS provided me a range of skills and helped boost my self-confidence,” she said.

“So, when it came to tackling my first year, I was ready. I took on 4 subjects while working, running a household and trying to maintain my sanity. It was a challenging year, yet very rewarding.

“I completed my first year with a range of credits, distinctions, and high distinctions. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d attend university, let alone receive credits or higher.

"Having friends, like Karlisle and Elyse by my side, who undertook the same assignments and study load as me, gave me so much support and reassurance in some really trying times.

“I hope to continue this good work, graduate, and gain employment as a Registered Nurse, and be the best version of myself. I also want to show my daughter, Cadence, that no matter what happens in life, it is never too late to achieve your dreams.”

Tara's classmate, Karlisle had endeavoured to continue with her Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, but after completing STEPS, she knew her future was in healthcare.

“STEPS was a massive help in terms of gaining computer, research and assessment writing skills. It almost eases you into university life and makes the first term a lot less daunting,” Karlisle said.

With one year of her Nursing qualification down, Karlisle looked forward to progressing with her studies and chasing her post-graduation goals.

“I have mainly enjoyed the residential school element of my course. I love hands-on learning, so it's great to be able to put everything we have watched and read into practice,” she said.

“Post-graduation, I’d like to take my kids to see Australia and work in a rural or remote setting. Eventually, I’d love to be part of educating future nurses, by helping out with on-campus residential schools.

“It really has been fantastic sharing this journey with my friends, Tara and Elyse. We all met through STEPS, and it's great having each other to bounce things off and keep each other motivated.”

Elyse agrees, saying “It’s been amazing. Having friends to laugh with is great.”

“In fact, that’s probably been one of my first-year highlights – having the support of my amazing friends, who are on this journey with me. And, that I received three high distinctions.”

The mum-of-four said although her career goal of becoming a Midwife was different to both Tara and Karlisle’s, her academic journey had been very similar.

“At first, it was a bit of a struggle to juggle work, study, and my children. I’m still trying to figure out an effective routine, but I’m slowly getting there,” Elyse said.

“Over time, I’ve learned to have fun and not be too freaked out about exams and assessments. STEPS was a great first ‘step’ to completing my degree and the lessons I have learned are lifesavers.

“The course learnings, paired with the support of my teacher, Helen, have allowed me to write HD-worthy assessments. I think I can talk on behalf of all three of us when I say that STEPS changed our lives for the better.”