Determined to advance his education as a single father' international student Leonard Francis found the perfect fit for his life with CQUniversity's range of asset and maintenance management courses.
Based in Papua New Guinea' Leonard said he decided to study via distance after learning about the University's reputation for flexible online learning' which allowed him to study from his home country.
"I have always been interested in pursuing tertiary education' but as the breadwinner for my family' I could not afford to leave my job to undertake study.
"Balancing work' my family commitments as a father to three young boys' village obligations and at the same time studying and meeting deadlines for school tests and assignments seemed almost impossible'" he explained.
"On top of that' I lost my partner to COVID-19 and picking up her family responsibilities made life even more challenging for me.
"I was fortunate to learn about CQU's online study program from my workplace career development coach.
"I am truly grateful for her advice as the asset and maintenance management pathway was the solution to my problems."
Despite the challenges' Leonard successfully completed the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma of Asset and Maintenance Management' both with Distinction' before commencing the Master's degree earlier this year.
As a mature-aged student' Leonard said CQU's articulation option gave him the confidence to succeed and create a strong study routine.
"Before I started my studies with CQU' the last time I attended a formal lecture class' sat in front of a teacher in a classroom' or even studied for a test was more than 25 years ago.
"To regain that study habit and get a bit of rhythm going before attempting higher courses' I started at the lower level and progressively make my way up towards the higher qualifications'" he said.
"I forced myself to be disciplined. This has often meant I need to forgo activities that don't add value to my life.
"As I have progressed through my studies' I established a plan that allows me to invest all my available time in the areas that matter most to me - my God' my work' my health' my family and my study."
This has proven to be a successful mindset for Leonard who achieved the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) in the Graduate Diploma of Asset and Maintenance Management and was awarded the 2021 Bruce Hiskens Memorial Award.
"My studies have armed me with the most-needed theoretical in-depth knowledge to supplement my 23 years of hands-on field experience in asset and maintenance management.
"I have also embraced the knowledge and experience shared by my peers. Participating in online zoom lectures and tutorial sessions are always fun-filled and highly interactive'" he said.
"Most of the online students are working-class employees of various organisations with vast industry experiences. Thus' a lot of knowledge sharing and learnings take place during the zoom sessions.
"I use these skills in my role as a rotational FIFO employee' where I actively participate in initiating and contributing to asset and maintenance management improvement ideas' plans and initiatives within my organisation.
"This is setting me up for a future where I could oversee my company's asset maintenance function and be able to make final asset and maintenance management decisions."
Having seen the positive impact his studies have made thus far' Leonard said he is excited to take the next step in his education with aspirations to complete a PhD.
"The availability of high-quality online study resources and excellent support offered by the academic staff has made my study with CQU easier' more enjoyable and successful.
"This has motivated me to continue my studies. I am looking forward to completing PhD with CQU in the future and have already begun the preparatory work to meet the prerequisites to be accepted for the PhD course."