lifestyle

"Everyone told me I was crazy, but I knew this was the best decision I'd ever made."

Jo Abi with her kids.

Since becoming a mum, I want to do more with my life than ever before. It’s been the biggest surprise about motherhood. I’ve always been ambitious but having children fuelled the fire in me.

I want my children to achieve whatever they want to achieve in life and know they can do whatever they set their minds on because that’s exactly what their mummy does.

Often life doesn’t quite go to plan. In 1994, I enrolled in uni straight out of high school but really couldn’t focus because I was already working. This was a common theme amongst my friends. For whatever reason, tertiary education fell to the wayside because we were so eager to do other things first.

I was working, my best friend had a baby and other friends were travelling. At the time, our parents weren’t happy with our choices. I ended up deferring uni and finishing it much later and many of my friends either never got around to getting a degree or did one, much, much later.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by CQUniversity Australia. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

These days university has completely opened up to everyone. Instead of being a huge challenge to enrol and attend classes, we can access amazing courses online and achieve whatever we want to achieve. And just so you know, studying later in life is fun. I’ve never felt more invigorated or inspired.

I am in a place in my life where I am happy, working, I have my children, but I want to keep working on me. There are so many career paths I’ve wondered about, so many areas of study I’ve always wished I knew more about. Now I can study anything I want to study and it is so flexible that it completely fits in with my life.

“The next day I told my closest family and friends that I was a uni student, again.”

I hadn’t studied for 11 years when I decided to do a course. I was 36 with three children. I’d worked solidly since leaving school but I had a secret dream. I wanted to be a writer. I also wanted to go back to uni and study something, anything, to do it properly.

I wanted to learn about finance, philosophy, literature and I wanted to attend a university that catered for my study needs by offering flexibility to fit study around my family.

Just five minutes of internet research later, I found an amazing writing course that could be completed through a university, on campus, via distance education, online or a combination of the three. I enrolled immediately feeling scared and excited.

How on earth was I going to find time to do this?

The next day, I told my closest family and friends that I was a uni student, again. They said I was crazy. How will you find the time, why would you want to go back to uni, what about the kids… But nothing they said burst my bubble.

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I’ve never been more excited in my life. In fact, completing a Masters in Creative Writing would be my first of many. There’s so much I want to do and so much I want to learn. Thanks to the way university degrees are offered and structured these days, it’s easier than ever before to enrol and complete amazing courses.

I experienced one moment of hesitation before starting my degree. I felt overwhelmed by what I was about to do and started to worry that I may not be able to do it after all. Was it selfish of me to devote time to it on top of work and on top of caring for my children?

It was my sister who set me straight.

She’d enrolled in a university course the year before and completed it online. It was completely flexible and she was able to find time each week to complete her studies. When she finally finished her course, she attended a graduation ceremony.

It was one of her proudest parenting moments. To show her children a glimpse of who their mummy was when she wasn’t being a mummy, to show her daughter she could achieve anything she wanted to if she put her mind to it, that it was never too late to learn something new and amazing.

­She took a photo of herself in a cap and gown surrounded by her children and it has pride of place on her photo wall, right next to her framed degree.

“My children will see me in my cap and gown at my graduation ceremony.”

It was listening to her explain how proud she felt of her achievement that inspired me to go through with my own secret dream to grow, to learn, to study and achieve my ultimate career ambition.

I even dug out my original degree and the certificates I’d gain for a public speaking course and a radio presentation course. I framed them all and hung them up. I want my kids to ask about them, to find out about me, to witness achievement and to aspire to achieve themselves.

Now, a little over two years later and I’m 1409 hours away from handing in my final assignment. At the end of the year, my children will see me in my cap and gown at my graduation ceremony. They will see how proud I am of what I have achieved and they will be proud of me too.

If you’ve ever wanted to further your education, now is the time to do it.

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What would you study if you could go back to university now?

I’m choosing to make mid-year ‘my time’.

We want to encourage Mamamia mothers (and fathers) to consider taking some time to do something for themselves. Choosing to study a short course, certificate, diploma or degree at CQUniversity Australia starting in mid-year might be something that they do for themselves – and their families.

Flexibility is one of our key benefits for stay-at-home or working parents. We offer full time, part time, online and on-campus study to work around busy lives.

CQUniversity and CQ TAFE are set to merge on 1 July. Opening up a wealth of study and training options.

Readers can attend an on-campus or online information session to have all their questions answered.