I never thought I would go back to study once I finished Year 12. I was never an academic person and didn’t enjoy studying at school. I’m now 31 years old and I’m so glad I waited, if I studied straight after high school, I might have lost interest. For me, it was important to study something that I really wanted to do and wait until I was ready to commit wholeheartedly.
I have been a scuba diver since I was seven years old, I’ve always lived by the ocean and for 10 years I worked as a Dive Master. I’m in love with the marine world and there was no question about what I wanted to study — I knew I wanted to do a Bachelor of Marine Science.
I researched the ratings of universities situated all over the world. JCU is ranked number one in the world for Marine and Freshwater Biology*, so I chose to apply and was accepted. I found that in some countries an undergraduate degree in marine science takes four years to complete and JCU’s degree is three years. The extra year is generic and I believe didn’t add extra value to the course. In addition, choosing the three-year degree meant that my study was much more affordable.
The transition into study was hard, it’s a bit like a rollercoaster, there are many ups and downs. But, I put a lot of work into my study and it’s fun as I’m really interested in my subjects. In my first year, the Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) were a big help for me to learn how to study again. The library staff are amazing because you can book appointments with them to check references and ask for advice regarding academic writing skills.
One of the main reasons why I love studying at JCU is that there are so many opportunities to get hands-on experience in the field. If you are interested in volunteering and going on field trips, you just need to look, you will find them! I volunteer my time tagging Hammerhead sharks for one of the projects lead by a JCU researcher. I also volunteer for Global FinPrint, the world’s largest shark and ray survey. I think this is really setting me up to work in the field as I’m building my experience and contacts within the industry.
When I’m not in the field, I spend quite a lot of my time in the Science Place. It’s an awesome new building that I feel lucky to have access to. The labs always have everything we need, and it’s easy to find quiet corners of the building to study in.
I’m not sure yet what I want to do when I graduate, if I can work in shark conservation that would be my dream. As long as I get to work near the ocean, I will be happy.
*Source: 2017 CWUR