When I left high school, I was told that University wasn’t an option for me. My future was getting an admin job, getting married and having kids. Studying Psychology at University was something I’d always fantasised about, but never believed that it would be part of my journey.
In my early forties, I was divorced and raising 3 children on my own, with very little support. With no direction, I was feeling defeated by the path my life had taken and saw few opportunities to change the trajectory of my life. The decision to enrol in university was spur of the moment. I was already struggling to keep our heads above water, so I figured if I was going to struggle, it may as well be for something worthwhile. So, I borrowed the QTAC application fee from a friend and, with no idea what it would look like, I took a leap of faith and applied for the Bachelor of Psychology (Honours).
As a mature age student, my first 12 months were a rollercoaster ride, trying to navigate adult learning with a truckload of self-doubt and juggle sole parenting. I was functioning almost entirely from faith – faith that this was going to be worthwhile for our future.
I engaged in all the student support services I could find, and it wasn’t long before I heard about USC scholarships and how they help support students financially. The process of application for scholarships at USC was simple - just one online application form. To my surprise, I was awarded a U3A Equity Bursary. I couldn’t believe it. I used the money to put a few household bills into credit so that I could focus on my studies and not have to worry about them for a while.
Since then, I have received several bursaries, some merit-based and some equity-based. Occasionally, they involve a more formal application process. When I received the Graduate Womens QLD Undergraduate Bursary, I was presented the cheque at an official breakfast and was given the opportunity to tell my story in an acceptance speech.
Scholarships are about so much more than money. For me, being selected to receive a scholarship or bursary is an acknowledgement of my hard work, commitment, and the sacrifices that myself and my children have made for me to achieve a lifelong dream to become a psychologist.
Studying a degree as a mature age student can feel long and isolating. For me, receiving a bursary is the equivalent to someone saying “we see you working hard, keep going!”. After 6 years of study, I’ll be finishing my final semester in semester 1, 2022. I cannot wait to walk across that stage and receive my degree, with my children cheering me on. I am so grateful to the donors and to USC for acknowledging my hard work and providing financial support to help me finish my studies and achieve my lifelong goals.
Written by Nicole Liddell, studying a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons).