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Turning a hobby into a degree: Mitchell’s story

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study, Environmental Sciences
Mitchell Beagley 1800X800

Like so many others, Mitchell Beagley didn’t know what he wanted to do when he finished Year 12. Luckily, he discovered a traineeship in a field he’s passionate about and has since completed a Cert II and III in Aquaculture, and is currently studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science with CDU – all while juggling full-time work and parenting duties.

We asked him some questions about what motivates him to kick his life goals, as well as his experiences as a CDU student and the challenges he’s faced along the way.

The longer you put it off, the longer you deny yourself of that sense of fulfilment and happiness

Michael Beagley

What motivated you to study? 

I didn’t have much of an idea about what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be after completing Year 12. I found out about an aquaculture traineeship, and it really appealed to me as I enjoy being on, in and around the water.

Was your family supportive?

It was my wife who pushed me to commit to studying, and once I told the rest of my family they were all really supportive and wondered why I hadn’t done it earlier. This served as the best motivation; to study in an area I know I will enjoy and having the support of my family.


Michael Beagley family

Why did you decided to study Environmental Science? 

As a Darwin local, it should also come as no surprise that I am keen on my fishing. To be able to work with water, barramundi and mud crabs while learning the technical and scientific techniques used to rear these animals motivated me to apply to study Environmental Science.

What do you like most about studying with CDU?

I like that CDU is our local university and that I can be a part of a local institution. Although I am an external student, I am able to attend some classes on campus and I also make the most of the library facilities on a weekly basis for study and research. Also I can meet face to face with lecturers, and can easily attend any compulsory on-campus aspects of courses, such as intensive components.

Being able to balance my time is definitely my biggest challenge

Michael Beagley helicopter

How do you plan to make a difference and contribute to a better future with your degree?

As a Darwin local, I’m passionate about my hometown, fishing and the marine environment. I would like to think that I will be able to ensure the health of our waterways is not severely impacted on by the increasing expansion of developments in the area. Having a young family, I would love to be able to share the same boating, fishing, swimming and camping experiences that I had with my parents with my son in the years to come. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of studying for you?

Being able to balance my time is definitely my biggest challenge. Working a full-time job, studying an almost full-time load externally, and finding time to spend with my wife and our son isn’t always easy. The reality is sacrifices have to be made. It’s also hard to explain to my 18 month old that I’m too busy to play with him, so study is usually left until after he has gone to bed.

Mitchell Beagley laboratory

If you’re already thinking about studying, you’re already most of the way there

Do you have advice for others that might be experiencing the same thing?

To me, study is the pathway to doing something I enjoy; something I can see myself doing for a long time. In the end, it’s about my happiness and that of my family. So my advice would be; although it is frightening and seems like a giant commitment to “go back to school”, talk about it with your partner, family and close friends.

Also if you’re already thinking about studying, you’re already most of the way there. There will never be a perfect time to do it, and the longer you put it off the longer you deny yourself of that sense of fulfilment and happiness.

Find out more about studying Environmental Science or our VET Aquaculture Certificate courses


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