2 December 2016
Naomi Carroll put her career aspirations aside when she became a teenage mother – until a University of the Sunshine Coast program put her on the path to a teaching degree.
The 23-year-old, who left school at the start of Year 11, has just completed the first-year of the four-year Bachelor of Primary Education at USC’s Gympie campus.
The Mary Valley resident said a world of opportunity opened before her last year when she was chosen to receive USC’s Educational Support for Teenage Mothers Award, known as ESTEEM.
The award is open to young mothers, aged between 17 and 25, who were unable to finish Year 11 or 12 at school due to pregnancy. It provides financial and social assistance to study USC’s university bridging program, Tertiary Preparation Pathway.
USC will host a special ESTEEM information session and free morning tea for young mothers and their children at 11am on Wednesday 7 December at The Gympie Jungle, 23 Tozer Street, Gympie.
Ms Carroll said she heard about ESTEEM at a similar information session at a mother’s group in Gympie and decided to apply.
“One of the successful recipients spoke about how it had changed her life, and I thought it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.”
The former Mary Valley College student said she could not have taken steps towards gaining a degree without the opportunities and support that came about as a result of the ESTEEM Award.
“I toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher when I was young but no-one in my family had been to university, so I thought it was also something that I would also never get to do,” she said.
“Then when I had a child at 17, I saw myself as having to put aside any hopes of having a career.”
After completing USC’s Tertiary Preparation Pathway last year through ESTEEM, Ms Carroll said she gained confidence and the necessary academic skills to enrol in the Primary Education degree.
“My practical placement in schools has made me realise how much I enjoy being in a classroom and I know that I have found my calling.”
She credits support from USC staff and growing friendships with classmates for her academic success, and for allowing a good balance between study and time with her daughter and extended family.
Information on USC’s ESTEEM Award is available at www.usc.edu.au/esteem, and by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning USC Gympie on 5456 5800.
— Clare McKay