Diploma to help Carolyn kickstart late career change | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Diploma to help Carolyn kickstart late career change

Twenty years after deciding not to finish university, Maryborough’s Carolyn O’Donnell says the time is finally right to gain tertiary qualifications and chase a career in environmental science.

The 47-year-old has enrolled in one of USC’s new Diploma programs, offered for the first time in 2019, as a pathway back into study.

The full-time, one-year diplomas in Business Innovation, Creative Industries, Science and Technology, or Social and Human Services are stand-alone qualifications that offer direct entry and up to one year’s credit into selected USC bachelor’s degrees.

When Semester 1 gets underway at USC’s Fraser Coast campus on 25 February, the former horticulturalist will start the Diploma in Science and Technology, which offers elective courses in Environmental Science, general Science or Animal Ecology.

“I have been browsing websites of universities for about a decade now, and when I saw USC was offering this diploma, I was just so thrilled to have the opportunity at my age to study my passion – wildlife and the environment,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“It is ideal as it provides a university qualification in 12 months, gives me a pathway into a full-degree and I can study at home without having to leave the Fraser Coast,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said like many women, her career plans changed when she first became a mother.

“I actually began an Associate Diploma in Applied Science when I was 26-years-old, however I left after 12 months after finding it challenging trying to juggle study with a young baby,” she said.

“Before children, I worked in horticulture for local government, and when I came back to the workforce, I found jobs that suited my family situation, working in security and disability support.

“Now my children are young adults, it is the perfect time to go to university. I have the freedom to throw myself into this world of study and do the best that I can without too many distractions.”

She intends to convert the diploma into a degree in Animal Ecology or Environmental Science and gain a career working in one of those fields. “My ultimate goal is a career as a research scientist with the CSIRO,” she said.

Applications are still open to study at USC in Semester 1,2019.

— Clare McKay

Diploma student Carolyn O’Donnell with USC adviser Liz Davison at a recent University Skills for Community course at USC’s Fraser Coast campus
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