Top academic honour for graduate Gympie nurse - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Top academic honour for graduate Gympie nurse

31 May 2018

After careers as a pathology scientist, chemical analyst and teacher aide, Gympie’s Vanessa Tyson knew she found a winning combination with a USC degree that mixed her love of health and people.

Vanessa graduated from USC recently with a Bachelor of Nursing Science, a University Medal for academic excellence and a job as a graduate nurse in Gympie Hospital’s Acute Services Unit.

The mother of two from Curra said chasing her nursing dream only became a possibility when USC opened its Gympie campus in 2013.

“I could not have conceived of travelling away to attend university or studying externally,” she said.

“I thank USC for realising their vision of increased accessibility and support in regional communities that has made tertiary education a reality for many of us who otherwise may have never had the opportunity.”

Vanessa shared her education journey in an inspiring and amusing address at her graduation ceremony, after achieving a perfect Grade Point Average of 7 in her studies.

“One of my key messages was that education is a gift that cannot be taken from you – you cannot unlearn, you can only build on what you have learnt,” she said.

“I feel that we have been privileged to have had the opportunity to complete a tertiary degree because learning is the foundation of life.”

Vanessa initially developed an interest in health at her first job as a pathology laboratory technician.

“After becoming a mother and supporting disabled and marginalised young people as a teacher aide, I realised that more than anything I enjoyed being with people and feeling that I could contribute to someone’s life in a positive way.

Life as a graduate nurse in the Gympie Hospital’s Acute Services Unit was intense but immensely rewarding, she said.

“I have been well supported and am enjoying constantly learning and working with wonderful people every day.”

Vanessa said she felt prepared for the transition. “USC’s degree provided extensive general theoretical understanding, practical experiences from placements and skills to continue enhancing my knowledge base and critical thinking abilities.”

She thanked USC’s Nursing Science lecturers and tutors for being integral to the transformations made by her cohort of graduating students during their studies.

“They not only educated us, but nurtured us and encouraged growth by inspiring, guiding, challenging, coaching and cajoling us,” she said.

Applications are now open for mid-year entry to study at USC, with Semester 2 starting on 23 July. USC’s annual Open Day will be held at its Sunshine Coast campus on Sunday 22 July.

— Clare McKay

Gympie's Vanessa Tyson from Gympie is presented with a University Medal from Chancellor Sir Angus Houston at her USC graduation

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