Ms Megan Holmes gleamed with pride on graduation day. And deservedly so, after the prolonged hardship of maintaining the family’s farm during a period of unprecedented challenges as well as working and raising four energetic teenage boys.
The family live 65 kilometres from the small rural town of Nyngan NSW and Megan’s thirst for further education started after enduring ongoing difficulties because of a lack of speech pathology services so desperately needed for her eldest son.
As a result, Megan decided to pursue a Master of Speech Pathology in the Charles Sturt School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences.
Megan has always called rural Australia home, farming with her husband and four sons.
Having grown up in Condobolin NSW and lamenting the lack of healthcare services offered to communities such as hers, Megan was motivated to obtain a Bachelor of Nursing after she completed high school.
The thought of completing further education in speech pathology occurred to her after having to drive more than 400 kilometres round-trip every fortnight for these services for her eldest son.
“When my boys were little, I completed my postgraduate Child and Family Health Nursing (CFHN) certificate. While working as a CFHN in Nyngan, I became passionate about the lack of access to speech pathology services in rural areas,” Megan said.
“In my child and family health nursing role I knew frequent referrals to speech pathology services in Dubbo meant long waiting lists and associated barriers for families, such as travel, cost, and time away from school.”
Before Megan embarked on further study, her days were already full working part-time in the embedded research team role as well as working as a registered nurse in general practice.
When contemplating long study requiring hard work, Megan called upon some good advice she’d received earlier in life.
“Advice that resonated with me was that the time will pass anyway, meaning the years go by whether you choose to pursue something or not,” she said. “I knew I had to pursue a speech pathology qualification.
“Studying on top of many other life commitments is hard but rewarding. I have kicked personal goals, have been pushed to practice things I find difficult, and identify my personal and professional strengths.”
Megan said a driving force was that she felt a duty to fill a gap in the rural healthcare services offered within her community and beyond.
“I knew if I didn’t pursue a speech pathology qualification to fill a gap in our rural communities and make a difference to families by improving quality of life, I would always regret it,” Megan said.
It was Megan’s family, both then and now who continue to inspire her to push her limits and be the best she can be, despite the trials along the way.
“Studying as a mature age student was both a roller coaster and a marathon,” she said.
“Fitting study around the juggles and struggles of everyday life was challenging. This included prioritising family, the ever-changing challenges of our farming business, nursing and research work, and my mother being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and passing away last year.”
It was Megan’s children, and the potential benefits of the speech pathology services she believed she could offer her community that remained the constant light during some of the darker times.
“My children would have to be my greatest inspiration. I have always been grateful for the fact they have taught me more than I ever feel like I have taught them,” she said.
“The thought of being able to offer speech pathology services to rural communities, and reduce barriers, kept me moving forward,” she said.
Megan hopes to provide access to speech pathology services for local children, teens, and adults to improve their quality of life.
She looks forward to extending her nursing and speech pathology skills in 2023.
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