When COVID-19 restrictions first hit, La Trobe University announced a suite of short, discounted online courses to help Australians upskill or study for new careers, including the Undergraduate Certificate of Food and Nutrition.
The course was released at just the right time for Bendigo’s Ashlyn Barnes, who was ready to take the next step in changing her life.
A year ago, while working as a duty manager at Coles, Ashlyn joined a gym for the first time in her life. “There’s hope for anyone,” she laughs of the goal to get fit.
Ashlyn enjoyed her new-found fitness so much that she left her job to pursue an online personal training course.
She says she loved the anatomy aspect of the course, so started searching for further study options, when she chanced upon La Trobe’s new food and nutrition course.
“I’m really enjoying it,” she says. “It doesn’t feel like work because it’s just so fascinating. I’ve studied chemistry, physiology, anatomy and sociology, as well as nutrition subjects. There’s a lot of variety to the course.”
Ashlyn says the opportunity to start and finish the course during the pandemic has been ideal.
“I live alone, so it’s been pretty quiet,” she says of the lockdown period. “I don’t know what I would have been doing if I wasn’t studying. I think I’d have been bored out of my mind. I wouldn’t have had a reason to get out of bed.”
And although the course is online, she says it’s been a much-welcome conduit to meet and connect with like-minded people, in Bendigo and afar.
“The forums are really good and active and there’s a Facebook group as well,” Ashlyn says. “This semester I’m doing a group assignment, so it will be nice to do something with others.”
The six-month taste of university study has inspired Ashlyn to now pursue a Bachelor of Physiotherapy on the Bendigo campus next year. This month she applied for the course via VTAC and is now hoping to be accepted, with her undergraduate certificate giving her some prior credit.
“Initially I hadn’t thought about doing a degree, but this course has given me the confidence to pursue physio, as my results have been better than I thought they’d be, I think because I’m studying something I’m passionate about,” she says.
“Next year I’m hoping to get into the physio course and work part time as a personal trainer, but I’ll have so many options.”
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