Dynamic father-daughter duo graduate together - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dynamic father-daughter duo graduate together

2 Jun 2021

An Indigenous father and daughter who recently graduated together from USC Fraser Coast share the same career aim ­­­– to make a difference in people’s lives.

Since gaining a degree in Nursing Science, Mark Lowe’s focus has been on the care of people with mental illness, while his daughter Rhiannon Lowe is helping to shape young minds after completing a Bachelor of Primary Education.

Mark’s specialised nursing role in the Mental Health Unit at Maryborough Hospital involves working with clients to promote psychological well-being, emotional health and physical wellbeing.

“The best part of this role is that I have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and can work to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health by helping people understand that it is an illness like any other,” he said.

Mark said a desire to fully realise his career potential motivated him to enrol in a Nursing Science degree at USC’s campus at Hervey Bay in 2017, after 17 years working as an advanced practice enrolled nurse in maternity, renal dialysis and specialist outpatient clinics in Moree and Hervey Bay.

“I was initially looking at changing jobs completely,” he said. “However, I decided I wanted to keep going forward in the health industry and I haven’t looked back.

“Working in the mental health sector was never on my radar until a placement at the Maryborough Mental Health Unit in my third-year of study opened my eyes to what a challenging but immensely rewarding profession it could be.”

Rhiannon enrolled in a Bachelor of Primary Education at USC’s Fraser Coast the same year as her father, after completing Year 12 at Hervey Bay’s Xavier Catholic College in 2016.

Since the start of this year, she has been teaching at St Ann’s Catholic School at Redbank Plains, Brisbane.

“I’m enjoying developing relationships with the students and seeing growth and progression in their learning and social skills,” Rhiannon said.

“I have been fortunate enough to have met a lot of brilliant mentors through my studies and placements with USC,” she said. “They have provided me with so much knowledge and insight into the career that will stay with me forever.” 

The opportunity to graduate together at Maryborough’s Brolga Theatre recently – wearing stoles incorporating the colours of the Aboriginal flag in recognition of their ancestry – was an unexpected bonus from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark, who graduated in absentia last year after his ceremony was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, took up the opportunity of a formal graduation when USC offered all 2020 and 2021 graduates a combined ceremony to celebrate the end of their academic journeys.

“I thought the chance to share this experience with Rhiannon could be something really special – and it was,” Mark said. “It was also great to celebrate with my peers. I was blown away by the whole thing to be honest.”  

Rhiannon said there were many highlights from graduating with her father.

“I think the best part was having all of our family celebrating and sharing the moment together,” she said.

Applications are open to study at USC in Semester 2. USC will hold its interactive online Open Day on Sunday 18 July. Register here.

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