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It wasn’t easy returning to school as a mature student for Karita

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study, Changing careers
CDU Nursing student Karita McCarthy during pracs

You might look at a list of Karita McCarthy’s recent accomplishments and think that studying comes naturally to her. As a Bachelor of Nursing student at Charles Darwin University, Karita has certainly had a string of successes. But it wasn’t always that way...

“When I started my degree, I was my own worst enemy, I did not believe in myself and did not do enough self-care. Back then I would have said nursing was the hardest thing I’d ever done—and I’ve been through a lot,” Karita said.

Going back to school as a mature age student, having to have time management and being organised were some of the biggest challenges Karita faced.

“If you were not organised, you would fall behind very quickly. But if you ask me now, I love everything about it, and I think everyone should do it because it changes you. And I never realised how many doors nursing would open.”

It was a sense of altruism and her Aboriginal heritage that motivated Karita to study nursing in the first place. Karita is from the Waanyi tribe on her grandmother’s side and Tagalaka on her grandfather’s side, from around Croydon in north Queensland.

“With all the work the government is doing to try to Close the Gap (in Indigenous disadvantage) I feel that we need Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with higher education to be able to work with our people, to enable us to Close that Gap. I needed a degree so I could be part of the change. I love my people and want to do anything I can to help, one patient at a time,” said Karita.

CDU Nursing student Karita McCarthy and friends
CDU Nursing student Karita McCarthy and friends

“Studying with CDU has been life changing. The nursing faculty, all the way up to the Dean, are approachable and able to guide you through their own experiences, and they have an open-door rule, that if you need to talk you can always go and knock.

“Simulation blocks at CDU are also a highlight, with real life situations that enable us to put everything we had learned into practise. The blocks also gave us confidence to go into hospitals as registered nurses on placements, with guidance from our preceptors.

I hope my story helps others to gain their dream of getting a degree. That’s why I became a CDU Indigenous Ambassador—to support students adapting to the challenges of university life.

CDU Nursing student Karita McCarthy during pracs
CDU Nursing student Karita McCarthy during pracs

Here are some of Karita’s achievements as a CDU Bachelor of Nursing student:

  • 2017–18 Mediserve Nursing Scholarship
  • 2017–19 Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship
  • 2018 National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Scholar of the Year Award
  • 2018 Runner-up for Cadet Trainee of the Year at the Northern Territory Government Excellence Awards
  • 2019 CDU Placement Scholarship
  • 2019 Student of the Year: Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM)

Ready to take your passion for change to the next level? Study Nursing and Midwifery with CDU.

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