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Connect with your community through online study
Even with multiple other degrees under her belt, passionate learner Debbie decided to continue her studies online so she could connect with her community and help it thrive.
My name is Debbie Dunn and I am studying a double degree in Sustainable Development and Community Development through Murdoch University. I started off with Community Development because I home schooled my kids but they were growing up, and it's like what's next, and so I really wanted to find a way to give back to my community.
When I first left school, I did do another degree in Psychology and then I'd also done the graduate diploma in education, so I had some brick and mortar experience, and I mean there's definitely some value in that. But just being a single parent of three boys, for me, the Open Universities opportunity provided that flexibility, which, when I was home schooling and I'd be taking my kids to here, there and everywhere, I'll be in the car and I could be studying from the car so you can really integrate it with your life. And that's the other great thing about Open Universities, that you can just access really good courses that are in other universities, and you get that breadth to choose from, which is just fantastic.
There was some trepidation when I first thought about going back to university and how I would cope and there was a lot of help and assistance available to build my confidence and then I realised, yeah, I’ve actually got it and have continued to get distinctions and high distinctions since, so I've been doing really well.
Well because I’ve done the sustainable development side, there’s opportunities to work for like natural resource management or community collaboration on developing urban sustainability.
Community is really important because my sense of identity doesn't come from who I am. It comes from where I am and who I'm with, so any community is about remembering how important those social connections are. It's imperative really, if we want to have a good society that values community.
As a child growing up in South Africa, Debbie remembers feeling frustrated by issues of segregation and discrimination. After moving with her family to Australia at the age of 13, Debbie now has her own loving and tight-knit household to run.
Love of learning
After studying psychology and education earlier in life through more traditional bricks-and-mortar university learning, Debbie decided to enrol into a Murdoch University double degree through Open Universities Australia (OUA). She is now completing a Bachelor of Arts (Community Development) and a Bachelor of Arts (Sustainable Development).
“My motivation is definitely about knowledge, growth and learning, and doing that with other people in a way that’s life affirming, and creates growth for everyone, not just me,” says Debbie.
“It’s been a journey. I’ve been part-time, then gone full-time depending on circumstances. That flexibility has just been fantastic for me as a single parent of three boys.”
A fresh perspective
When raising her boys, Debbie chose home schooling, and is now seeing them growing up to explore their own passions.
“Having home schooled, it’s interesting to have a different take on education, because it hasn’t been so much about an institution, but about embracing opportunities that life has to offer, and exploring what you’re passionate about,” says Debbie.
Not only is Debbie completing her degree, but she is also working as a volunteer on two major projects within her community. She’s very much driven by a strong sense of social justice and desire to connect with those around her.
During her spare time, Debbie loves to garden. “Without gardening I wouldn’t be here – it’s definitely fundamental to my health and wellbeing, and my ability to continue studying,” she says.
There’s no denying Debbie has a bright future ahead of her, and she isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. No matter what challenges she may face during her studies, Debbie knows her studies will help her local community.
“I feel confident because of my experience with OUA. I can go out and say I have something of value to offer,” says Debbie.
If you share Debbie’s passion for learning, and you’re looking for a way to get studying online, get in touch with Open Universities Australia here or speak to one of their expert student advisors on 1300 513 044 to find out more.
This article was originally published by our friends at Open Universities Australia.