Mum to graduate 26 years later – alongside son | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Mum to graduate 26 years later – alongside son

4 Jan 2017

A Sandgate mother of seven who left university 26 years ago during her first pregnancy will soon graduate alongside her eldest child at USC Sunshine Coast.

Lizzy England, 46, and her son Sam Joyce, of Fitzgibbon, are celebrating the completion of their USC degrees in Occupational Therapy and Business respectively, following four years of study and travel between their homes and USC’s Sippy Downs campus.

“It was awesome to share the commute with Mum and catch up with her for lunch at the USC Brasserie,” said Sam, a former personal trainer who worked 30 hours a week in hospitality while studying full-time to pursue his goal of working in the startup industry.

“Mum dropped out of uni the first time so I’m unbelievably proud of her for going back. It feels really special for us to be finishing at the same time.”

Lizzy, a qualified upholsterer and former real estate agent with extensive experience in nursing and aged and disability care, said it was wonderful to hear her son calling, “Hey, Mum” across the USC campus.

“We’d have coffees and he wasn’t embarrassed by his Mum,” she said. “Although, when we realised we were enrolled in the same Psychology tutorial, he promptly changed to another.”

Lizzy and Sam will officially receive their degrees – her Bachelor of Occupational Therapy and his Bachelor of Business (Supply Chain Management) – at USC’s Graduation Ceremonies in April.

After taking a happy snap of their last day on campus together on 26 October, the mother and son duo said they had loved their time at USC and couldn’t wait to start new careers.

Lizzy, who moved from Cooma to Queensland with some of her family in 2011, said she enrolled at USC in 2013 to pursue a childhood dream to become an occupational therapist.

“I also got offered a place at a big university in Brisbane but as a country girl, I didn’t like traffic,” she said. “I soon fell in love with USC’s friendliness and warmth, and the connectedness I felt with lecturers and tutors who were always on my side. I had a lot of challenges but they wanted to me to achieve, and I finished with a GPA of 5.9 out of 7.

“OT is an amazing allied health profession that promotes health and wellbeing, and I believe I’m now doing what I was created to do. I’m passionate about palliative care and I want to work in the industry to help people stay as active as possible. I also want to do research.”

Lizzy, who last year won USC’s Stacey Mowle Smiles of Strength OT Prize, said highlights of her degree were work placements at Princess Alexandra Hospital’s emergency ward and Prince Charles Hospital’s geriatric evaluation management ward. She also enjoyed helping introduce “doll therapy” for clients at St Paul’s Lutheran Aged Care Village at Caboolture.

Sam, who this year joins the first cohort of graduates of USC’s Supply Chain Management degree, said he appreciated the chance to study some courses at USC SouthBank in the centre of Brisbane.

“The degree has given me fundamental insight into the key mechanics of how business works, and how to deal with supply and demand,” he said.

“I loved the courses on entrepreneurship and innovation and gained great practical experience working on a project with a Maroochydore startup company.”

— Julie Schomberg

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