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I'm the first in my family to go to uni: Beth's story

This article appears in: Law, Pathways to Uni
Law student Beth in her Brisbane office during an internship

Beth is a proud Wiradjuri woman from Canberra. Later in life, Beth took the first step in her journey to becoming a lawyer, by completing CDU’s free Tertiary Enabling Program. These days, Beth is well on the way to achieving her dream; she’s finishing her law degree online, while working as a legal intern at a law firm in Brisbane.

When Beth decided to leave school before finishing year 12, she wondered if this decision would follow her for life. But Beth comes from a line of strong, hard working women – and not getting an ATAR was the start of her story, not the end.

She’s the first person in her family to go to uni, and guided by a strong moral compass, has always been interested in the law. But before she could enrol in a law degree at CDU, she completed CDU’s free Tertiary Enabling Program – a 16 program that acts as an alternate pathway into uni.

Starting uni without year 12

Before starting at CDU, I was looking online at different universities, and came across CDU’s pathways to get into uni.

"I liked the flexible study options offered and knew that the Tertiary Enabling Program (TEP) would help me to brush up on study skills like English, Maths and Computing," she says. 

 I didn't go straight into uni after high school. High school was a rough time, with different things going on with my family. Back then, I just needed to throw myself into working life.

"I found a job as a receptionist in a law firm. This was good because it helped to pay the bills while I was working in an area I was interested in and passionate about. The job gave me exposure to law, and I was surrounded by people that were studying law as well. This experience was the catalyst that motivated me to go to uni.

Inspired by hard-working women

"My grandmother and her family immigrated from Ireland to Australia and first settled in Captains Flat in regional NSW. They moved to Canberra, she met my pop and they had seven kids. My nan was a cleaner: she would take all her kids along and they would all have their own little jobs to do.

"When I was growing up, my mum was also a cleaner. She would take me, my sister and nan, and we would go do the cleaning jobs together. During those times, I saw my mum really struggle, as she was a single mum raising two kids. At one point, she had three cleaning jobs, to be able to send us to a good school.

"I have so much admiration for my mum and grandma. Going on jobs with them made me realise that I didn’t want to be a cleaner and struggle like they did. My nan was a cleaner, my mum is a cleaner and so is my sister.

I want to break that cycle.

"My mum really pushed me to strive for bigger and better things in life. I would tell her how proud I was of her for how hard she worked, but she would always tell me: 'I don't want to see you kids breaking your back. I want my kids to go to uni, get a good education and get a good job.'

"That's why I'm the first of my family to go to university.

Finding new perspective through flexible study

I’m doing this because I want to have a life where I'm not struggling.

When I have kids, I want to be able to provide them with things that I didn’t have.

"I want to push myself to be able to create a better life for me and the future generations, including my kids’ kids and so on.

I like being among people who are trying to create a better future for themselves and the world they live in. It's so motivating.

What I like the most about uni is learning new things and the knowledge that I gain from that. I like to be able to challenge people's views (like you would in court), gaining a new perspective on the world, understanding why things are the way they are, and forget about that one single-minded opinion you developed growing up.

I just love to be around like-minded people, who are trying to create a better future for themselves and the world they live in. It's so motivating.

If, like Beth, you are looking for an alternative pathway to a university degree and want to pursue your study dreams, get started with CDU's free Tertiary Enabling Program.

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