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Staff and Students at Bendigo Campus

The Tertiary Enabling Program is a pathway to university for many mature-age students. For Jade Arbuckle, it became the bridge between her past and future.

Jade was working in administration at the Bendigo Advertiser when an ad for the program crossed her desk. In a serendipitous moment, she had just finished listing the steps she’d need to take to enrol at university.

“I’d been thinking about doing a course for ages,” she says. “I wanted to do nursing but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. I knew there were a few more skills I’d need to get into the course.”

TEP looked like it would provide what she needed. The 14-week part-time course prepares potential students to enrol in a degree. And it’s free. Jade called the number in the ad and enrolled before the information even made it into the paper.

At that stage, Jade had been at the Addy all her working life. She started as a graphic pre-press apprentice straight after high school. In her years in the industry, she saw massive changes to the point where the apprenticeship is now a thing of the past.

“That industry is pretty much over now,” she says. “When I tell people what I did, no one knows what it is. It wasn’t just learning how to put ads together, it was learning how to put the whole paper together, right up to the presses.”

Then, the paper used to be cut, pasted and photographed to make plates, but eventually turned digital, production changed, and Jade moved into administration. “I’d been at the Addy for 15 years and I felt like I’d stagnated a little bit,” she says.  “The way newspapers were going, I knew I would eventually lose my job. But I thought I wasn’t going to be smart enough to go to uni. Then I did really well in the TEP course, I had great marks and it gave me a lot of confidence.”

Jade attended the TEP course one day a week, studying chemistry, biology, anatomy, physiology and sociology. “It was all the basics I hadn’t experienced in high school because I did more of the arts subjects,” she says. “It was really good. It was also good to meet other people in the same position as me, being mature-age. Some of the people I met I’m still friends with now.”

The course provided a smooth transition for Jade to be accepted into a Bachelor of Nursing the next year. She says she always knew it was what she should be doing. “Anyone who knows me knows that all I watch are medical shows, and all I want to do is fix people up,” she says. “I’ve always been like that.”

In her second year of studies Jade won an award for excellent academic results, and excellence on clinical placement. She graduated this year and is now working as a graduate nurse at Bendigo’s St John of God hospital. And she’s loving it.

“I didn’t realise how different life could be,” she says. “It’s definitely been a step in the right direction for me.”

The Tertiary Enabling Program is now open for 2016 enrolments.


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