College of Science and Engineering

Publish Date

25 June 2019

A passion for natural ecosystems

That little voice in the back of your head saying, ‘Am I really doing what I want to do?’ or ‘I think I want to change careers but the thought of studying is really daunting’ may sound all too familiar, but you aren’t alone. Melanie Meaglia was one of those people, and she decided to take action. She took the plunge and has never looked back.

Melanie’s passion for natural ecosystems and drive to educate others about the importance of the environment have spurred her to overcome her fears of going back to study. The 31-year-old hadn’t studied for more than eight years and had been working casual, part-time jobs with no significant direction. It was time to engage her love of urban design and learn more about how our natural environment can be a part of the urban landscape, rather than completely separate from it.

“I genuinely care about the environment I live in. Essentially, it gives me everything I need: air, water, food, shelter, enjoyment and happiness. I really want to continue to give back to the environment in a more profound way and I feel that this degree will help me achieve my goals,” says Melanie.

The Bachelor of Environmental Practice student is in her first year of part-time study. Transitioning into study has been a massive achievement, one that she is proud of.

“I have had Type 1 diabetes for 25 years. At times, it has been a struggle and thrown me completely off track,” says Melanie. “Being able to prove to myself that I can manage my diabetes, study and look after my two step-children has really helped boost my confidence.”

For Melanie, starting study was quite intimidating and she wasn’t sure if she could cope with the change.

“I personally found it very daunting and scary as it was a completely new environment. I wanted to find my classrooms before I started so I wouldn’t be freaking out when I couldn’t find where I was supposed to be.”

She coped by familiarising herself with the campus, finding the classrooms prior to the semester starting and knowing where to park. These tiny details have been key to her settling into university life.

Melanie Meaglia with son rescuing turtle
Ang Mo Kio Park, Singapore
Left: Melanie, a wildlife carer for the past nine years, and her step-son helping a stranded sea turtle in Cairns. Right: An example of blue/green infrastructure in action at Ang Mo Kio Park in Bishan, Singapore.

On the path to success

Although going back to study has been an adjustment, she has relished the opportunity to socialise with like-minded people.

“Once you begin learning and socialising, you’ll never look back. The mental stimulation from learning and engaging in intelligent discussion and debate is highly rewarding,” she says.

Having the courage to go back to study as a 31-year-old has its benefits. Melanie has a clear sense of purpose and her passion for the environment will see her succeed with her graduation goal in the year 2021.

“I want to work within the environmental management and urban and landscape design sector. I have particular interest in blue/green infrastructure, an exciting concept occurring globally that brings water management and green infrastructure together. It would be a wonderful achievement if this concept can be implemented in Cairns and I could potentially be a part of that,” Melanie says.

Pursue your passion for nature, find out more about JCU Environmental Management.