Two young women are embarking on their nursing careers following their graduation in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health at a ceremony in Bathurst this week.
Ms Sarah Brown grew up in western NSW (Gongolgon, Brewarrina and Coonabarabran) before settling in Dubbo, which ‘has been home is more or less ever since’.
Her mother was a nurse and since her early 20s, Ms Brown has taken a keen interest in health and wellbeing.
“I saw obtaining a Bachelor of Nursing as a strong foundation for a career in health and felt a career in nursing was a fitting way to serve my community,” she said.
Ms Brown studied at Charles Sturt in Dubbo and said she enjoyed the content, from learning about the intricacies of how the human body functions to learning to be a better communicator.
“I really liked that I got to experience a wide variety of nursing specialities during different placements and got the opportunity to travel to experience nursing in the Philippines,” she said.
“I also enjoyed the comradery that developed between the students on campus.”
Ms Brown became pregnant half-way through completing her degree and now has a two-year-old daughter.
She made the decision to study part-time and not work to focus on motherhood while still prioritising her degree.
“It was difficult, but I was blessed to have lots of support from my partner and family during this time,” she said.
Ms Brown chose to complete subjects without workplace learning components while her daughter was a newborn and then completed those with a practical aspect when her daughter was older.
“I also had the option to move to online learning, which gave me much more flexibility with tutorial and lecture attendance,” she said.
Ms Brown applied for various scholarships throughout her studies and received three – one from NSW Health, one from Dubbo City Council and one from the Rotary Club of Dubbo.
Like many others, when she couldn’t attend her graduation ceremony last year, she was disappointed.
“But I understood that it was in the best interest of everyone that the graduation ceremonies didn’t go ahead then, and now I was excited to celebrate this achievement with the people that supported me through my studies,” Ms Brown said.
Reflecting on why graduation ceremonies are important for graduates and why it was important for her to attend, she said completing a university degree is no easy feat.
“Years of sacrifice and dedication have gone into completing the course and many, if not most, students feel a lot of pressure and stress while doing it,” she said.
“I think graduations help students feel a strong sense of completion and achievement, which is why I felt it was important that I attend my re-scheduled ceremony.”
Now that she has graduated, Ms Brown is focussing on caring for her young family while scouting for opportunities to begin her career as a Registered Nurse.
“I would like to work for public health or a non-profit non-government organisation that serves socioeconomically-disadvantaged members of the community and use my acquired expertise to become involved with humanitarian projects,” she said.
Fellow graduate Ms Marah Allman was born and raised in Dubbo and studied at Charles Sturt in Dubbo.
“I saw nursing as an opportunity to show how much love and compassion I possess and I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling career than one where I get to help the most vulnerable people every day,” she said.
Ms Allman said studying at a small campus meant that she had a very close relationship with her peers and her teachers.
“It was by far the best part of my degree and was also the most necessary to get through those stressful exam periods,” she said.
Ms Allman said she was truly devastated when she couldn’t attend her graduation ceremony last year.
“It felt like a rite of passage that every university student should go through and we missed out,” she said.
“For myself and my peers, we didn’t sit a final exam and didn’t have a graduation due to the pandemic. It was very anticlimactic in a way.”
Ms Allman is the first in her family to attend university and her family was almost as excited as she was for her graduation ceremony.
She said they were thrilled to attend on the day to witness her achievement come to fruition.
She said Charles Sturt helped prepare her for a career in nursing by exposing her to a variety of perspectives and clinical abilities.
Currently working as a full-time theatre nurse at Dubbo Private Hospital, Ms Allman said long-term she would like to develop her career and become a nurse practitioner.
“For now, I am putting all my efforts into my first few years of nursing and really strengthening my core nursing skills and I plan to do a master’s degree,” she said.