High-achieving grandmother leads by example | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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High-achieving grandmother leads by example

18 Nov 2021

Former Gympie Day Care operator Kathy Pitt not only had her sights set on gaining a new career by completing a USC Education degree – she was also aiming to inspire her children and grandchildren.

Last month, her whole family watched on proudly as Kathy received a University Commendation for Academic Excellence and a Leadership Award when she graduated with a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education at a USC ceremony at Hervey Bay.

“Ever since I was in primary school, I wanted to be a teacher. So hopefully I have shown my children and grandchildren the importance of following your dreams,” said Kathy, 44, who left school during Year 10 and believed for many years that higher education was out of reach.

She recently accepted a full-time teaching position in the Cape York Peninsula region, starting next year.

“I am first in my family to attend and now graduate from university – something I never imagined was possible,” she said.

“Having the courage to take that daunting first step through the doors was hard, not to mention being the oldest in my classes. However, building resilience by learning from my challenges was a powerful motivational force.”

Kathy completed her studies at USC’s Gympie campus and credits the University’s Tertiary Preparation Pathway program for giving her the skills and confidence needed to take a leap of faith to begin her degree.

She packed as many experiences as possible into her time at USC, including four weeks in Cambodia teaching Khmer children conversational English with Challenges Abroad and USC.

“This was my first time overseas and away from my family,” she said. “Learning to teach under a tree, with no resources or technology, and seeing the children's faces light up when they made connections was simply one of the best feelings in the world.”

Her passion for education extended to helping others and she was awarded a Leadership award for her dedication to the USC community and for finding creative ways to engage students in their studies through roles such as peer mentor and study leader.

As a student volunteer, she helped to run orientation days at USC Gympie and was part of USC’s MIE (Make, Integrate, Explore) program, teaching coding and robotics in local primary schools.

She also worked on a digital learning designers project with USC Lecturer in Education Natalie McMaster and presented at workshops for local schoolteachers and digital expos.

A long-time member of the Centenary Gympie Scout Group and a foster carer since 2018, Kathy said she found that helping others enhanced her own life and education journey.

“Being able to focus on the needs of others helped me to manage my own challenges, time management and provide the motivation required for life as a university student.”

She intends to further her studies by completing a Master of

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