Meet Study Mum Melanie
Name: Melanie Thomas
Family: Single mum of 4 children aged 19, 17, 14, 4.
Location: Western Sydney
Bachelor of Psychology, sub major Crime and Criminal Justice
Currently in 3rd year, sub-major completed and applying to start Honours in 2018.
I Rate This Course Fantastic Course 4 Out of 5 Stars * * * * *
Studying on campus at Western Sydney University. Great University, friendly, good atmosphere and excellent opportunities available
I Rate This Educational Institute 4 Out of 5 Stars * * * *
What I love About My Course:
I thoroughly enjoy my degree, when I started I did not have a specialist area in mind, however now I fully intend to be a Forensic Psychologist. I am well on the way to achieving my goal and I have made valuable connections with my academics and been able to attend conferences in my field of expertise. I have also secured many grants or scholarships to fund; conferences, text books, practical external training and research opportunities.
In my past life I worked as a travel agent for many years, then decided I needed a meaningful change after caring for my mother when she died of breast cancer. I volunteered for the Cancer Council NSW and then undertook formal training at TAFE. I secured a job as a Youth Worker and worked with vulnerable people in a case management role.
When I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest child I discovered my husband was leading a double life and I was suddenly on my own. I was completely broken, lost and one day my old boss (my mentor) asked me if there was anything I had ever wanted to do in life. I told her I wanted to go to Uni to study psychology, but I dismissed the idea as I thought I was too old. She ripped into me and told me you are never too old and that I should pursue my dream. This gave me focus and helped propel me forward, find my feet and my self-confidence again.
I did a lot of research online, attended open days and finally I applied. My application was successful and I also secured a $20,000 opportunity scholarship to fund my education. I had not written an essay since I left school and I didn’t think I was good enough to go to Uni. I am now in my final year of the undergraduate degree and I have been on the Dean’s merit list every year, sitting in the top 5% of the cohort. I am currently writing my application for the Honours program and I fully intend to complete a PhD. This excites me greatly and I can’t believe I have come this far. It makes me very proud.
My Best Study Tips And Tricks Are:
I treat my study like it’s my job. I study and do all my uni work during the day and I am a mum at night. To make myself more employable I have volunteered at agencies in my area of interest. A great example of this is when I approached a company that work in prisons for an internship. I had to sell myself to them and they were impressed with me and took me on. I began volunteering for them and now they pay me for the work I do. I have written and presented a domestic violence perpetrator program for them and I now do group facilitation in prisons. This is valuable experience that is very difficult to get, it helps me learn on the job, enhances my employability skills and looks great on my resume.
I always apply for any scholarships or grants that I see advertised and I am frequently successful. I apply for text book vouchers where possible and then resell my books when I am finished with them. I investigate every opportunity and I take a strategic approach to my studies. I have made many friends at Uni which is a bonus that I did not anticipate, I have a fabulous study buddy and we have become close friends. We encourage each other, help one another and help each other focus when we are feeling overwhelmed. We met each other at a mature age student (free) workshop which was designed to help make us ‘uni ready’. Western Sydney University offers many free workshops for all students, for maths, writing, careers or just transitioning to University life after a break from study. I would encourage everyone to make use of these valuable resources.
How I Keep Motivated:
My motivation is to better myself and to defy the stereotype. I want to show myself, my children and everyone else that I am a strong, independent, intelligent woman. My goal is to become Dr Thomas and mark my words, I will be. The university also offers students free counselling and every now and then I use it. It is a great service, completely confidential and extremely helpful.
My Best Advice For Other Mums Who Are Considering Studying:
For any mum’s who are considering studying my advice would be to go for it. Ignore the naysayers, get as much information as you can and be very organized. If you need help, ask for it. The academics are very accommodating and asking for an extension is not a sign of weakness, sometimes it’s a necessity.
Do something for yourself, follow your passion and even though it is difficult, keep going. The feeling of fulfilment and achievement keeps propelling you forward to the next assessment, next unit and the next semester. Before you know it, you’ll have a degree!