Kristy Jenkins' dream of helping teach young children with additional needs became reality when she crossed the stage to receive her Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) at the 2021 CQUniversity Bundaberg graduation ceremony on 9 December.
Completing her studies was a significant milestone for Kristy' who apart from living with her own health issues and disabilities' is also the mother of six special needs children.
"I began my study journey with many challenges' some of which were raising my children who also have many disabilities and complex health issues'" she said.
"I later learned of my own disabilities and complex health issues. These circumstances at times drove me to second guess my ability to successfully complete my degree' but it was only with the support of CQUni staff' both within the School of Education and The Arts and Student Support Services' including the Inclusion and Accessibility team that I am able to proudly walk the stage and graduate."
Although Kristy's circumstances meant she was unable to complete high school' CQUni's STEPS program gave her the opportunity to consider tertiary education.
"I began with STEPS' which gave me the opportunity to gain the adequate education level to enter university. After discussions with Mrs Hernia Conradie about my passions - those being the early intervention for children with additional needs - I made the decision to enrol in the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood)'" she said.
"I loved the journey of completing the degree because it gave me opportunities to engage with a wide range of lecturers and learning environments. The course subjects also allowed me to challenge myself' both personally and professionally."
Kristy this year accepted a teaching contract with a small school in the Bundaberg region.
"While this contract is only small it is within a very well supported environment that most graduate teachers could only dream of and this will be continuing in 2022.
"Graduating still feels very so real. Having never completed high school and feeling as though I was never good enough to be now walking the stage to accept a Bachelor degree is surreal.
"My experience with CQUni's processes and staff has influenced my daughter' who is not only following in my footsteps' but her grandfather's too. She's set to complete her Bachelor of Education (Primary) in 2025."
Kristy thanked all the Bundaberg campus staff' including Elizabeth Hamilton and Michele Palu as well as Kerry Aprile.