There are moments in life where you must decide between staying in your comfort zone or taking a chance and challenging what you know. For some, the decision is easy. For others, not so much.For Murdoch graduand Wenna Lee, there was a lot riding on whether or not she should pursue the double major in clinical laboratory science and biomedical science degree she is about to graduate with.
Wenna is a recipient of the Vice Chancellor’s Commendation of Academic Excellence, meaning she has placed in the top two per cent in her final year of study and achieved a minimum of 15 credit points of High Distinction – an impressive feat for someone who initially had no idea if returning to study would be achievable.
Wenna always knew she had a passion for science, but her previous schooling in Singapore – where she grew up – made it difficult for her to major in science and pursue her passion for the subject.
“Since I was a little child, I have always been intrigued by how things work and the older I got, the more I realised that virtually no living organism on this planet exists in isolation.
“It was reading more about the microbial community, especially those that co-exist on us humans, that piqued my curiosity. To the young me, that prospect was both fascinating and terrifying.”
With no previous university experience, as well as commitments to her children, Wenna didn’t know where her degree might take her, or if it would even be worth it.
“I have to admit, when I first enrolled I hadn’t the slightest idea of where my degree would take me or even if it would provide any return on investment. It had seemed that the sky was the limit and I had the flexibility to switch courses if I wanted.”
A second chance at finding your passionAfter being accepted into university, the prospect of studying something she knew she was passionate about was now suddenly within her reach. Before study was a possibility, Wenna had also grappled with how study could make a difference to her future – that is, until she got that second chance.
“For more than a decade, I had come to accept that my boat had sailed, and it was too late to embark on a career change that required years of full-time studies. Being accepted at Murdoch made me aware that my mind was the architect of my own imprisonment and, it spurred me on to grasp the opportunities that present in front of me.
“The encouragement of a second chance coupled with my strong passion for what I’m studying pushed me to go beyond what was required for my course.”
Flexible study options and a solid support network helped Wenna find a way to manage her commitment as both a parent and a student.
“My experience at Murdoch has been a consistently exceptional one for the last three years. When I just started, and my children were in primary school, I enjoyed the flexibility of choosing units that fit into the school run, complete with lecture recordings.”
Forging your own path to successWith each new challenge comes an opportunity to embrace what you know and where you’ve come from. For Wenna, this was an opportunity to make the most of her past to set herself up for the future.
“Before Murdoch, I had an exciting career background which mainly includes sales and marketing, and to a lesser being an inline-skating instructor, flight attendant, running my own company and modelling.
“While the constant switching of fields made career advancement challenging, this diverse experience I gained helps me to see things from many perspectives.”
Armed with everything she gained from previous experience Wenna felt comfortable to reach outside her comfort zone and embrace the opportunity to learn about things she didn’t yet understand. The ability to challenge and adapt helped her to forge her own path and find out what it was she really wanted.
“Throughout the course my studies and via a long process of elimination, I worked out what I did not wish as a career. It was around the end of my second year that I volunteered as a research assistant and I realised I would love to pursue research.
“It did not have to be prestigious, but it had to slowly but steadily fill in the knowledge gap to make the world a better place for everyone and everything living in it.”
The path to success might not always be clear, but there’s a lot to say for trusting your gut and pursuing something you know you love. Taking a chance outside your comfort zone can be daunting, but for Wenna, all it took was a leap of faith.
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