Between working full-time and being a mother to two young children' Tegan Callahan never believed she could afford the time and cost needed for tertiary education.
Thanks to CQUniversity and Arrow Energy' Tegan has not only achieved this dream but graduated as one of the top Bachelor of Nursing students at today's Cairns Graduation Ceremony (Wednesday' 12 May 2022.)
"I have always wanted to be a nurse and midwife. You spend so much of your life at work. I wanted a career that felt like I was contributing to the world - making it a kinder' more comforting place'" Tegan said.
"I was initially very anxious to start uni but something my mum said resonated with me' 'just do it' the time will pass anyway.' And I'm so glad I did! The time flew and now I'm heading toward where I want to be in life.
"I decided to take a leap of faith and enrol with CQUniversity because of the reputation at our local hospital. The Registered Nurses have always told me they love having CQU nursing students on placement.
"There was also the bonus of being flexible with learning content. Being able to study the theory components online suited me as a mother. I was able to put their needs first and plan my study days around them."
The proud Mandandanji woman said the additional support from an Arrow Energy Go Further Indigenous Scholarship' which provides recognition and financial assistance to Indigenous students' helped her maintain a strong work-life balance.
"I am very grateful that Arrow Energy is so generous and willing to support students like myself.
"I never thought I would be eligible or be lucky enough to receive a scholarship' but after discussing with the scholarship team' I decided to try my luck'" she explained.
"I found the additional expenses involved in completing my nursing degree very challenging. The cost of uniforms' textbooks' printing' childcare' after school care' fuel' accommodation' and travel required for clinical placements added up quickly.
"The scholarship helped me continue with placement when I didn't think I could. Being sent away from family and working unpaid would have been almost impossible without it."
While Tegan admitted that being away from her family was difficult' she reflected on the invaluable experiences that set her up for a fulfilling future career.
"Placement is where you develop so many skills and are an important part of the nursing degree.
"A highlight was the rewarding interactions with patients. These experiences stay with you and make you feel like you're making the right career choice'" Tegan said.
"Plus' I made some amazing friends along the way. We keep in touch and support each other throughout our post-uni challenges."
Tegan is currently completing her graduate year at Cairns Hospital but said she is excited to get back into study.
"Although the study was challenging' I would definitely do it again and I have plans to further my studies soon. I miss learning new and interesting things each week. I hope to continue lifelong learning to some extent'" she said.
"I am passionate about women's health and want to provide compassionate care to women during their time of need. This has motivated me to further my career in midwifery.
"I hope to keep learning and developing skills in this ever-evolving career and find myself the perfect work-life balance with my family."