Testimonies of two women and their studies

Kerrie Wilson:
My journey into university started when my marriage ended. I wanted a better future for myself and my children, and needed something positive to focus on. I applied to study horticulture and was extremely happy to be accepted.

I studied horticulture for 18 months but changed degree and university, mainly because I was finding the cost of residential schools to be too much, and it was easier for me to study closer to home. I am now studying environmental science and absolutely loving it. The other reason I decided to change my course was that I found I really enjoyed the 'science' subjects I had taken as part of the horticulture degree, this was definitely the direction I wanted to head for.

Studying as a single parent is challenging and exhausting at times, but more than anything it is extremely rewarding on a personal level. I have achieved marks I never thought I could and risen to challenges that at times I thought were just too hard. I do have to be very organised, but I think most parents are anyway, and I need to be very disciplined with my study routine, even when I don't always feel like it. I just remind myself that the day I graduate will be such a proud moment for myself, and hopefully an inspiration to my children.

For any women thinking about returning to study, no matter how long it has been since leaving school, I would say go for it, it's never too late to try something new. I didn't really know what to expect when I first started, and at times I felt completely overwhelmed, but when I had finished my first semester and actually passed my subjects I felt so proud of myself, and nothing can compare with that feeling of achievement knowing that I did it by myself. For anyone with a passion for horticulture doing a degree is a fabulous way to learn everything you could possibly want to know about the industry and the different paths you can take within the field. You will meet lots of wonderful people from all walks of life and possibly make lifelong friends.

Going back to study has been one of the best things I have ever done, it gave me focus during a negative time in my life and has given me a huge boost in confidence and a sense of self-belief. I wouldn't change a thing.

Aurelie Quade:
Whether you think can or cannot study is irrelevant. Whether you succeed in your study or not is irrelevant. What truly matters is to get out of your comfort zone and to have a go at things. Out of 10 things I was told (or thought myself) were far too hard to do, 9 of them were dead easy and 1 was not of any interest to me anyway. It was only a matter of trying.

In France, I thought I was too stupid to study at university level. So I booked myself in, just so that in the future, I would not regret anything and I would have a black and white proof of my inabilities. For most people this will not make sense, but I grew up with people full of regrets and swore to myself I would never have any. But guess what??? Things did not go horribly wrong, I managed to survive with pass marks and completed a diploma in social science.

I wanted to work in the UK, even though I had a well below average English at the time. The hardest thing was to book my train ticket, everything else fell into place after that. I wanted to go back to university, even though by then my English was average. The hardest thing was to make contact with a suitable institution and ask for an appointment with the person in charge of the desired department, everything else fell into place after that.

Studying in Australia was just the same, the first step is always the hardest. I booked myself into a part time bachelor degree in Environmental Horticulture, while pregnant with my second child, a husband working overseas, building our home (I mean it), running my own gardening business, no family support and whilst volunteering in an environmental association. Because of that every time I am asked about my time management skills in job applications I get wild. Anyway, the road to success was long, tiring and I lost my heart and soul many times. I did not say that it was getting any easier once you had stepped forward, but you are kind of stuck and have to stick with it. I remember handing the last assignment of the first semester in on a Friday and gave birth to my little boy on the Monday.

I gave the best of myself without ever getting the best marks, I cried and cursed myself so many times because of that. In a work situation, this is where the other team members come into play, we can all help each other to aim at the best only. When you are studying, there is no other team member and you can only do the best you can at the time.

Today, I have a degree in a foreign language, two happy kids and I am grateful for all the hard days, because I can look back and truly be proud of myself. No one said it would be this hard, but no one said it would be as rewarding either.

So GO Girls!!!!! GO!!!!!