'DRS without a doubt has helped me to achieve my goals of getting a degree...'
Annette hadn’t originally planned to go onto university study, but was inspired after attending her eldest son’s UC graduation ceremony.
‘At the ceremony I watched all these mature students walk across the stage, and I thought “if only I could do something like that”. I said to my son afterwards, and he said there is no reason why you can’t mum. For me I thought of many reasons not to. In 2012, with a back injury, a mother dying and a failing marriage I decided to take that leap of faith that maybe I could.
‘I entered into a Polytechnic course at the beginning of 2013 as I thought if I failed then it wouldn’t be so much of an issue. However, I passed with a B+ average in a year of heartaches, so where to then? My eldest son said Canterbury, and I wasn’t so sure. University has exams and the doubt seeped in that I would fail there. Anyway, I took a deep breath and applied.’
Having lived with dyslexia, Annette made the most of support services on offer at UC to overcome the initial academic hurdle.
‘My most support has come from the team at the Disability Resource Service from whom Nicola has been a constant support for all my learning needs. I had a notetaker in all of my lectures and when I sat exams I had a reader/writer and extra time. This service without a doubt has helped me to achieve my goals of getting a degree.'
As such, she found her place at UC, and enjoyed ‘everything’ about being a part of the community there.
‘I discovered Annette,’ she says. ‘It was a new start after the end of a 25 year marriage. My classmates were around the age of my children, yet they embraced me and invited me to all the activities the UC students get to go to.
‘I had been to a few events at UC, the most memorable being the Pride dance party at the Foundry which was a fantastic night.’
Choosing to pursue a Bachelor of Social Work, after her Human Services study at Ara, she soon found her passion towards a new career path.
‘I loved the team within the Social Work department, from Denise in the office to the lecturers always willing to help, no question is too big or small. They are a supportive team that looks out for their students and when life throws you a curve ball they are only too willing to help as I learnt over my 4 years.
‘As part of my final year at UC I completed two 480-hour placements. My second placement struck a cord with me and has led me on the career path that I am now on. I work for the Department of Corrections, with high risk offenders. As part of my role I work around the offenders’ rehabilitation and reintegration back into community. I work with a diverse set of individuals and love my job.
‘I still have a passion around our military, and as I was a wife of a soldier for over 25 years, I feel there is a need to support Army personnel and their families in that environment and hope to get the opportunity in the future.’
Having gained so much from doing university study, Annette strongly persuades other adult students to consider the same journey.
‘I would be lying if I said university was easy. However, I have discovered so much about me, society, different perspectives on life and found a love of gaining knowledge that I’ve never known.
‘I would like to encourage other mature students to make that leap of faith as I did. It is well worth finding the new you.’