I couldn't believe uni was finally happening for me

Joanne sitting on bush court at Murdoch University smiling

“The desire of becoming a nurse never left me.” This is my Murdoch journey: meet Joanne, mother of five and a mature age student on her way to earning her first degree, a Bachelor of Nursing.

Sometimes all it takes to change your life is one small step in the right direction.

In Joanne Padgett’s case, it was a quick call to see if she would be eligible to apply for OnTrack Flex, Murdoch University’s popular enabling program. Thanks to that call and that course, the mature age student is now enrolled in her first degree, a Bachelor of Nursing, with aspirations of becoming a midwife.

“When I was accepted into nursing I cried tears of overwhelming joy, shock, fear and elation! I just couldn't believe it was actually happening after all these years,” she said. “The desire of becoming a nurse never left me, and has in fact grown over the years through my experiences as a mother.”

Finishing school at 16 with “average grades”, uni wasn’t considered a realistic option. Higher education also wasn’t the norm in her friendship group and none of her family members had ever been to university. Joanne was encouraged to instead pursue a job in administration and she went on to have a busy life with five children.

Once her youngest was of school age she thought of heading back into an administrative role, but a part of her insisted that she could do something more personally fulfilling.

But exactly how do you change careers? Further to that, how do you start a new career with no experience, when you’ve been out of the workforce for more than a decade?

All it can take is a phone call.

The media loves inspiring stories of people who have pursued their passion and made it big: Liane Moriarty (from advertising to mega author), Nagi Maehashi (worked in finance before turning her business acumen to RecipeTin Eats), and Vera Wang (started her wedding dress company at 40). These may be household names but there are so many others who’ve made the shift into a life-changing new career.              

For Joanne, her golden ticket was OnTrack Flex. This mature age alternative pathway is a free program that qualifies students to apply directly to Murdoch for admission into any course with a minimum selection rank of 70. It’s not only a means into your chosen course; OnTrack Flex also takes potential anxiety out of ‘going to uni’ and prepares you for academic success. You’ll learn effective study habits and strategies, develop academic skills, and build support networks.

It’s also the perfect choice for those with a busy schedule.

“I loved the flexibility of OnTrack Flex as it allowed me to work around my children and study during the hours that suited me,” Joanne said.

Support and flexibility has always been part of Murdoch’s ethos. Over the past 50 years, Murdoch University has been a trailblazer for  making education accessible, through a range of entry pathways, flexibility through distance education, and by embracing mature age education. In fact, we can proudly say we were the first university in Australia to introduce a flexible admission system that considered factors other than school exam results.

It doesn’t matter if you finished high school 20 years ago, if you never considered yourself academic, or if anyone says it’s too late to start over. At Murdoch, we believe university education and the opportunity to create a new career should be available to everyone.

This includes Joanne. And it includes you, too.

Posted on:

17 Jul 2023

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