We want to celebrate an amazing achievement by one of our tenants. Judith recently graduated from Murdoch University with a double degree in International Aid and Community Development. We sat down with Judith to discuss her journey through university.
What sort of challenges did you experience during your studies? What was the experience like?
Being a mature student wasn’t easy and English is not my first, second, third or even fourth language. That was one thing that was really freaking me out.
I hadn’t had any experience with Uni before enrolling but I was pretty determined from the beginning. I knew exactly what I wanted and I knew nothing could stop me.
I planned out that it would probably take me six or seven years to finish. I had no experience and, being a single mum with my kids, I thought I needed to take it slowly. I ended up doing it for four years instead of seven as planned, which I was quite proud of.
What did you do to overcome these challenges? What motivated you?
I learned that English is not your ticket to success – you can learn English along the way. My intelligence isn’t defined by my English. This is a challenge I face everywhere I go, and this is why you need self-belief.
I had every reason to believe I couldn’t do it. But I didn’t quit. I would go home and listen to a 50-minute lecture. I needed to work hard, but what kept me going was my goal and to be a role model for my children. Now I feel really proud.
My kids were very helpful, they were like my supporters. I don’t know If I would have done it without them. They motivated me.
You moved in with Access Housing three years ago during your studies. Did the move change anything for you?
My degree wasn’t easy, but what made it so much easier was when I moved in with Access Housing. I was in a private rental and it was very stressful to be preparing for exams or assignments knowing at any time they can kick you out. There was no peace of mind. Every time I had to move out it was during exams, so I moved into a house with Access Housing and it was really helpful. It was my second year of Uni and things were getting tough, so being with Access Housing was really a game changer for me.
You mentioned how important motivation and self-belief was, can you tell us more about that?
Motivation is very, very important, you just wouldn’t believe how much people miss out on achieving because they lack that motivation. There are so many people that have been told that they ‘can’t’ by other people. But you can, you just need someone who believes in you and shows you that you can do it. There are so many people out there that can achieve a lot. If I did it I believe anyone can do it.
We all need that reassurance every now and then – it doesn’t matter what level you are at or what you are doing.
After graduating the next step is to get job ready. Has your involvement with Alex, our Creating Choices Officer, helped you at all?
First of all, just talking to Alex was good. Like I said, sometimes you just need to talk to someone. The reassurance does really help. It was just that to start with and then some ideas on how to do things. She really has helped a lot. She suggested I contact Dress for Success. At first I wasn’t sure but she really insisted, so I did.
What was Dress for Success like? Did it help you?
Dress for Success was really worth it. You don’t realise how many resources are out there that are useful to you.
I did my own research and Dress for Success are international – I had no idea. It’s for women and to empower women. They help you if you are preparing for a job or looking for work. They give you tips for how to dress for interviews, how to present yourself and how to answer interview questions. They had clothing, make-up, handbags and shoes. It was really helpful and I believe many women will benefit from it, so it was definitely worth it.
So we want to know……. what is next for you on your journey, Judith?
Whichever door opens first I will step in. When I say I know what I want to do – it means anything that involves helping people and empowering people. That is what I want to do, and whatever opportunity comes first I will jump for it.