Juggling work and study pays off
Raising children, studying for a university degree and holding down a job is a big task for anyone. For Goonellabah mother of three, Deanne Powell, the task will hopefully be made easier now she's won an Indigenous Student Teacher Scholarship, courtesy of Australia's Governor General, Quentin Bryce.
Deanne was selected out of thousands of applicants for one of eight scholarships and recently attended an awards ceremony at Government House in Canberra where she and her husband met Ms Bryce.
"She was very grandmotherly and supportive," Deanne said. "She read out some of my scholarship application about how I'd been studying, looking after the kids and doing community work and she said to me, 'Wow you really need this scholarship'.
"I'm lucky my partner was with me. We work together as a team and it was his award as much as mine. He is a supportive partner and has gone through it all with me, looking after the household and cooking for the kids when I was studying at night."
Deanne has been studying for a Bachelor of Education for almost three years through Deakin University's Institute of Koorie Education. Now at 32 years-old and pregnant with her fourth child, the $25,000 scholarship means that she won't be "stretched so thin" during her final year of study.
Deanne has always enjoyed learning, but was never sure what she wanted to do with her life and "fell into the field of education accidentally".
"I attempted to do a law degree straight out of high school but that wasn't for me," Deanne said. "Later, I went from studying Cert III to working in pre-schools and volunteering at my kids' schools and I realised I loved working as a teacher."
Now, she's found a mainly online course of study that fits with her busy lifestyle and she even takes her children into lectures with her with her when she attends occasional week-long study intensives at the university campus.
"I'm enjoying finding out who I want to be and having a ball," Deanne said.
"This bit of financial help will make such a difference and I can now buy a new computer, more school books and even new reading glasses so I can keep studying."