There are many pathways to a university degree, and while nursing student Skye took advantage of La Trobe’s partnership with the Bendigo Kangan Institute of TAFE to advance her career, the journey to get there was uniquely hers.
Skye said quitting her job at the age of 30 to pursue a different life was one of the most terrifying things she’d ever done.
“It was like jumping off a cliff,” said the Bendigo Campus student.
Over eight years at Don Smallgoods Skye had worked her way up to managing the food lab, when she had the change of heart.
“I thought, if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it,” she said on walking away.
At first Skye completed two months of a beauty therapy course in Melbourne, which led to some volunteer work painting the nails of residents in a Castlemaine aged care home.
“I’d never been into a nursing home before,” she said. “The experience showed me I could be with people in a different capacity,” which was how she came to pursue nursing.
Skye looked at what uni would offer versus TAFE and chose to start with the latter. The hours of the Bendigo Kangan Institute meant she could work while studying, plus she said it was a good stepping stone back into a classroom.
“I hadn’t been in any form of education since school so for me it was a nice way to ease back into that environment,” she said, adding she always planned to take advantage of the pathway to La Trobe after the two-year diploma.
Anyone who completes the Diploma of Nursing can apply for entry into La Trobe’s two-year Bachelor of Nursing – which is a year less than the regular program.
“By the time I hit uni I’d already had four placements, so TAFE gave me a good opportunity to be in a hospital environment,” she said. “Uni is more academic, but it’s been really good to go in with practical skills I can now build upon.”
Skye is now combining study with a full-time job in Bendigo Hospital’s psychiatric services. She said a degree will increase her capacity for career progression.
“I’ve managed people in previous jobs and it’s something I’d like to do again in the future. To do that you need to be a registered nurse.”
Skye said although life is busy, it’s rewarding to have come this far, and to be in a supportive workplace while studying towards her future goals.
“I pinch myself that I’m now able to work in an environment that I absolutely love,” she said.
“The job satisfaction is something I never thought I’d have. It feels surreal that I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to do what I love.”
La Trobe has several pathways into bachelor courses from TAFE courses, which could allow you to gain entry as well as shave up to 18 months off a degree in nursing, social work, health sciences, early childhood education, outdoor education, IT, engineering, creative arts or business.