Published on 27 May 2013
When Anja Jennings stopped waitressing at 19 to enrol in a study preparation program at the University of the Sunshine Coast to pursue a career in education, she had no idea of the snowball effect it would have on her family.
Now 26, the Buderim teacher and mother of two is studying her third degree and working at USC and her success has inspired her brother, father, partner and brother-in-law to follow their dreams through USC too.
“I just love it here,” Anja said. “I guess I got the study bug. The University’s TPP program was absolutely life-changing.”
TPP is Tertiary Preparation Pathway, a program that equips people aged over 17 with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in undergraduate studies.
The program is flexible, offers an experience of university life before committing to a degree, and is free of charge for Commonwealth-supported students.
Anja said completing TPP gave her the confidence and courage to enrol in USC’s Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Creative Writing, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Education.
“I worked as a relief teacher in Coast high schools for two years and have returned to USC this year to study a Master of Social Work,” she said.
“When I was pregnant, we didn’t have much money and I got a first-hand insight into how social workers can help. I decided I’d love to help young people like that too.”
Since completing TPP, Anja has encouraged family members to do the same. She is now a TPP tutor at USC.
Her brother Murdoch Jennings finished TPP and a USC Bachelor of Arts majoring in English. He is now studying Honours at the University.
Her father Tony Jennings, a former police officer, finished TPP and is now studying a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Science.
“Dad wants to work in cardiac exercise prescription and testing of children with congenital heart disorders because we have various heart conditions running in our family,” Anja said.
“My partner Caine Lanigan was working at a shopping centre when he decided to do TPP. Now he’s studying a Bachelor of Computer-Based Design to work in 3D modelling.”
Her brother-in-law Jamie Unsworth has just started TPP after working in retail.
“We are a TPP family success story,” Anja said. “It is such a worthwhile program. Now, as a TPP tutor, I love to see the change – that moment when students say, ‘Hang on, I can do this. Uni isn’t scary … it’s achievable’.”
— Julie Schomberg