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Why I pursued my passion after having a child

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study, Science
Sarah Hedley at charles darwin university

Wondering if studying while you have children is the right step? Be inspired by Sarah. After spending four years focused on her growing family, she decided that the time was right to pursue her passion by starting her first degree in Pharmacy.

What are you studying and why now?

I was studying a Bachelor of Science last year, planning to major in biomedical science but now I’ve transferred across to a Bachelor of Pharmacy.

I’ve always wanted to do pharmacy. I did work experience when I was in year 10 (going back years now) and again in year 12. Loved it! I’ve been working as a pharmacist assistant for five years so I've gotten a taste of the job and what it involved. I thought it was exactly what I wanted to do so I’ve pursued it since then. I would have started it earlier, but I fell pregnant with my son so I had to put my dream on hold. But now I have the opportunity, so I decided to go for it.

I fell pregnant, so I had to put my dream on hold but now I have the opportunity, so I decided to go for it.

Did you go straight to university?

After year 12, I went straight into work. I bought a car and didn’t think I could afford to do university as well. I was still at home at the time in country South Australia, so wasn’t close to a university. Then I met my partner and the year that I applied for pharmacy, we made the decision to move across to Melbourne. We had a baby and then four years later I’m in Darwin, following my passion. I got there eventually; it’s not a race, I’m at a good point in my life where I’ve got the determination and support to actually be doing this. It’s better than struggling financially and whatnot, so it’s smooth sailing now.

I’m at a good point in my life where I’ve got the determination and support to actually be doing this.

Are you studying full-time or part time?

Initially it will be part time because I’m actually pregnant again! So I’ll be part time this year, and move to full time in semester two next year. I'm also doing summer semester. I thought I might as well; it will help to shave a year or so off my studies.

Why did you choose to study with CDU?

I chose to study at CDU before I found out we were moving to Darwin. I knew my scores for pharmacy weren’t going to be high enough to get me into the course initially so I thought if I did a degree in science, hopefully, I would then be accepted into pharmacy. But then we came up here about three or four weeks before the semester started, which was a win-win for me, and I figured I would apply for pharmacy sooner than planned. The worst thing they could say is no, but they said yes!  So it was a smart move, I’m very happy.

Are you studying online or on campus?

I started studying my degree externally, but have realised that it’s not the mode for me. I don’t study as well if I don’t have a visual to focus on. That’s something I figured out myself, so now I’ll be studying internally for the rest of my course.

I’ve got to think about the future for my kids and  providing for them. I’m very passionate and very excited about studying.

What's your advice for those considering starting a degree?

When you're just starting your studies, seek out information; good information. Orientation is a great opportunity to do this. I listened to a lot of the plagiarism sessions and learnt how to take notes. Initially, I thought I knew how to do that, but there were a lot of tips and tricks I picked up that I didn’t even consider. I thought you could just change a few words out of the sentence and that’s fine, but no, that’s plagiarism.  It’s been a while since I left high school, about 7 or 8 years; so it was quite a beneficial eye-opener, I’m really glad I went.

How did you manage exams? What's your advice to someone who may be concerned about exam stress?

My biggest tip is to do a lot of revision and a lot of study. Most of the time I end up talking to the cat! I’ve found that talking out loud helps me study. So I don’t normally come into the library if I’m studying properly; I just sit at home and he sits on the bed while I speak to him about topics like the central nervous system. He has no idea what I’m on about but it’s better than talking to myself, he’s still a person (sort of).

What about assignments? Do you prepare in advance or leave it all to the last minute?

I prepare throughout. About three weeks before I have something due I’ll at least go through what I need to do and the basics. And every few days over the following weeks, I’ll chuck in an hour here and there until it’s basically done. I make sure it’s complete by the night before because I don’t always have the time when my partner is away and have to plan for the unknown when kids get sick. So I find it’s a lot easier to not take the risk and just take my time to do it properly.

What are your plans for the future?

Since I’ve been working in a community pharmacy for so long, I would like to be a clinical pharmacist. I would like to actually further my studies and do my masters (long term goal). It’s something different, and hopefully, once I get work experience through the course I’ll see if that’s really what I want because at the moment, I have absolutely no experience in clinical pharmacy.

I’m very passionate about pharmacy; I have been for a long time. And I’m finally there, it’s just surreal and I can’t even fathom that I got it. Hopefully, all the work I’ve done in pharmacy will help me with my degree. I’ve got a little bit of knowledge in how things work so that will help as well. Now I’ve got to think about the future for my kids, provide for them. So I’m very passionate and very excited.

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