From train driver to nursing student: Tara is taking STEPS in the right direction

21 June 2022

Often viewed by others as using school to socialise and play hockey' Tara Beare did not see herself as being academically gifted and struggled to understand the "normal way of learning" which prompted her to stop trying.

Today' Tara has shut down her negative inner monologue and followed her newfound dream of becoming a nurse with CQUniversity. However' it took an array of personal challenges for this dream to come to fruition.

After high school' Tara said she wasn't interested in attending university.

At 21 years old' she'd secured a job working as a Locomotive Driver in Central Queensland – a job that she said is still one of her biggest achievements in life.

After five years in the role and a long road of IVF and infertility issues' Tara fell pregnant with her daughter Cadence' and that was when she said everything started to change.

"It was during my maternity leave that I felt I had hit a crossroads in life.

"I thought about what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I needed to be a role model for my daughter' but I also needed to contribute and support our family'" she said.

As the pressure of returning to work grew' so too did her anguish about the thought of missing out on her daughter's younger years - something she might never get to experience again.

Tara returned to work on a casual basis' but she knew deep down that train driving was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

After months of brainstorming possible career and business adventures' Tara was rocked by a personal experience that changed her life forever – her dad's cancer diagnosis.

"A day or so after my dad's major surgery' I was sitting in his room with the company of a nurse. A simple task that he was fully capable of performing prior to his surgery had now become incredibly difficult for him'" she recalled.

"Watching his pain and frustration was heartbreaking."

Tara said that feeling quickly vanished when the nurse made her dad laugh' distracting him' even if it was just for a second.

"The actions of one lovely nurse made me decide right there that I wanted to help sick and vulnerable people when they wouldn't help themselves. I wanted to be a nurse'" she stated.

"But along with that realisation came self-doubt. I graduated from high school back in 2003. I had never written an essay that would be tertiary level and I thought my vocabulary and grammar were shocking. I told myself that I had no hope."

Despite her self-criticism' Tara attended a CQU Open Day and that's where she discovered STEPS (Skills for Tertiary Education Preparation Studies).

"STEPS taught me that there isn't just one normal way of learning. After activating visual' written and verbal learning' things started to make sense' which debunked my childhood belief that I was dumber than others for not being able to retain or understand some content at school'" she said.

With the support from the STEPS staff and her family and friends' Tara is about to commence her final placement and graduate in a few months with a Bachelor of Nursing.

Throughout her degree' Tara has achieved excellent results' as well as an invitation to become a member of the Golden Key International Honours Society and a recipient of multiple CQU scholarships.

"If I didn't complete STEPS' I would not have had the confidence' skills and ability to have come this far'" Tara said.

"No matter who or how old you are' it is never too late to follow your dreams. Everyone is on a journey. Some people just take a different route to get to their destination.

"If anyone is thinking about a career change or thinks they don't have what it takes to go to university' try STEPS. I highly recommend it as a stepping stone to any degree. I am so glad I did it."

Enrol now for Term 2 STEPS.