Top medal for mum who rose to uni challenges - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Top medal for mum who rose to uni challenges

9 Apr 2019

A major car accident and the arrival of her second child could have spelled the end of university life for Deborah Kelsey, but instead she went on to exceed all her expectations.

The Landsborough local not only graduates with a four-year Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) this week, she will also receive a Chancellor’s Medal for her distinguished contributions to university life.

Among many involvements, she was a member of the Student Representative Council, Academic Board, Academic Appeals Committee, Student Engagement Leadership Team, and worked as a USC Ambassador, a mentor to other students, a specialist technologies officer, and helping set up USC’s School of Education Society.

Deb, 30, says despite facing challenges along the way, it was the support of her lecturers, tutors and University staff that kept her going to achieve a Grade Point Average of 6.29 (from a possible 7) and gave her the confidence to take on responsibilities outside of the classroom.

“I was studying when I found out I was going to have another baby and I thought ‘what have I done?’ but that was pretty short-lived after I had discussions with staff and worked out a study plan,” she said.

This included bringing her baby to classes, asking for help from her lecturers and USC support services, and juggling childcare with her mum who is studying Social Work at USC.

Even when a car accident left her with concussion, whiplash, hearing loss and nerve damage – Deb found a way to carry on, driven by a passion for ensuring children have a quality education in their vital early years.

“It was my final semester and I had to decide whether I was going to take time off, and everyone encouraged me to keep going,” Deborah said.

“Student Wellbeing put a support plan in place to get me through my placements and it was so important knowing I could easily talk to people if I needed a bit of extra help.”

USC senior lecturer Dr Ali Black said Deb helped lead a push to revise the student representation system in university decision-making, placing USC among the first in Australia to implement a ‘Students as Partners’ framework.

“Deb has worked tirelessly, compassionately and professionally to ensure student concerns are heard and responded to, and she has created a range of forums to enable student voice,” Dr Black said.

“Her contributions extend to the wider community where she has been a parent representative at her children’s kindergarten and advocates for children while supporting local education and sustainability initiatives.”

Deborah completed her placement at Mooloolah State School, all the while working at USC in the Information Technology and Marketing departments.

As a child she attended Landsborough State School and Cooktown State School. She then completed a Certificate 3 in Children’s Services and worked at a daycare centre before deciding to upskill in the industry by enrolling at USC.

Applications are open to study at USC, starting Semester 1.


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