Faces of the Festival

The Gold Coast is a rapidly growing, dynamic city offering a multitude of employment opportunities with many pathways to achieve your career goals. Everybody’s needs and circumstances are different and sometimes it can be challenging to navigate your way along your career journey. The Faces of the Festival highlight some of the journeys our students have taken to realise their career aspirations. Their stories may inspire you to follow your dream.

Gabi Dixon

Gaby Dixon

Bachelor of Actuarial Science / Graduate Certificate in Business
Bond University

I loved maths at school but hated science. I wasn’t sure where to go with that because most people end up doing a STEM based degree. At first I considered doing a maths degree, but I didn’t know career-wise where it would take me, then I discovered actuarial science, which applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in insurance, finance, and other industries. Bond is the only university in Queensland that offers it.

When I went to Bond’s Open Day the university began to hold a special place in my heart because the staff were all so friendly and personable. My sister also studied Law at Bond and I knew others who went there before I did. Bond has a really tight knit community, it’s not like you’re just a number in an institution – they offer such a personalised experience which is exactly what I wanted.

At Bond I majored in finance and big data and now I’m working for Deloitte, where I’m doing consulting, analytics and AI. My dream is to travel as much as possible to see what I like because there’s just too much out there to know. I’d like to try investment banking, along with actuarial work as well. With my qualifications I can really go anywhere I want in the world of finance. 

Liam Eugarde

Liam Eugarde

Bachelor of Film and Television
Bond University

I’ve always wanted to work in film and did media studies all the way through high school, where I also started an audio-visual club. Bond University wasn’t originally on my radar until I heard about it in grade 12. It was my dad who suggested I should check out Bond. When I visited the campus on their Open Day I was really impressed with their film and television faculty.

I enrolled at Bond University because I wanted to learn all of the different facets of the industry and every aspect of film making, which you can’t do at high school. There are small class sizes in lectures and workshops so that your lecturers know you by name and I really appreciate that you have the opportunity for consultation sessions with your lecturers where you can discuss anything about the course or what you’ve studied with them.

One of the cool things about Bond is the core program where they teach you life skills that you wouldn’t otherwise receive in a regular course of study. Things like critical thinking, communication, leadership and ethics – from technology to medicine and the environment.

Bond is an amazing university - I love the people, the campus and the connections that the lecturers have in the industry. They’re not just teaching from text books, they’re teaching from experience. During the COVID lockdown last year they had to modify the program to online teaching and in doing so they taught us how to create content using live stream video. It was a classic example of how to find a practical solution to a real-world problem. 

Isaac Hawkins

Isaac Hawkins

Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws
Southern Cross University

I looked at all of the universities on the Gold Coast and decided on Southern Cross because of its proximity to the beach and the smaller university feel of the campus. Law has an excellent reputation and being able to match the business side of my aspirations for the double degree was the perfect fit for me.

The culture is good at Southern Cross, there’s a real sense of everyone wanting to learn and you feel it every time you’re in the classroom, a study space or the library. I like being able to talk to my tutors and lecturers, it provides a much more helpful learning environment. Because class sizes are relatively small, it’s so easy to have a personal connection with your tutor and your lecturer, which is great because I’m always asking questions.

I’m a keen surfer, so being able to surf and study so seamlessly is such a huge bonus for my study/life balance. I will literally finish a lecture, have my board in the car and go straight for a surf afterwards – what other university allows you to do that so easily!

Gabriella Wayne

Gabriella Wayne

Bachelor of Education
Southern Cross University

When I graduated from high school I took a job as an office assistant for a real estate business, working my way up through the company until I took maternity leave. At that stage I was managing 7 real estate offices in Brisbane. I’ve always loved helping people and when I fell pregnant I decided I wanted a career change that would better suit my needs while raising a family. Motherhood was an opportunity to change direction.

I chose Southern Cross University largely due to its location. When I toured the campus I liked that it was a vertical university and not so spread out. I loved that it’s a modern facility and it had a really good vibe.

At 27 I found it surprisingly easy to return to study. I signed up for Southern Cross University’s Preparing for Success Program, which is a bridging course into university study. I did well in the two subjects I undertook and based on the results I was accepted into Southern Cross.

Studying education at Southern Cross has been amazing. I’ve felt overwhelming support from every lecturer and tutor to help me succeed. Their attitude is “how can we help you?” During COVID my lecturers were calling me to make sure I was OK. I feel very supported because they care.

I’ve done very well as a student to date. My GPA is high and I’m doing lots of extracurricular activities on campus as well as being a mum managing a tiny human, so it’s definitely possible to do it all as a mature age student.

Taylor Kett

Taylor Kett

Diploma of Nursing
TAFE QLD

I’ve wanted to be a nurse and midwife ever since I was young. I began studying as an Enrolled Nurse through TAFE while I was still at high school through my school’s VET program and because of that I’ve been able to start my career sooner. It’s a great stepping-stone to achieving your goals.

I would definitely recommend anyone to consider starting their VET studies while still at school. It allowed me to drop other school subjects that didn’t interest me, as my VET qualification counted towards my overall mark for the OP (now ATAR).

TAFE’s Southport facility is excellent. I really enjoyed using the Simulation Labs every week and the teachers were always checking in on you to see if you needed anything and to see how you were going. They were always happy to stay back and help you too.

The combination of the practical sessions at TAFE and hospital placements during my training gave me the confidence I needed to become a successful nurse. It’s such a hands-on career and the only way you can really learn is by doing the physical aspects of the job.

Starting out as an Enrolled Nurse took the pressure off becoming a Registered Nurse immediately by allowing me to gain more workplace training in a real-world environment. Now I’m studying to become a Registered Nurse and ultimately would like to become a midwife.

Sarah Bowdler

Sarah Bowdler

Certificate III in Carpentry
TAFE QLD

When I finished school I did a Bachelor of Criminology at university. After graduation I took a gap year where I reassessed my career priorities and decided that I really wanted to be a carpenter. Ever since I was a little kid I was making furniture for my bedroom and helping my dad renovate houses and because my dad is a carpenter it’s always been in my blood.

While my university degree was primarily based on theory, TAFE is very hands-on. The classes are small and everyone knows your name. You also go out to do a prac and then you learn by physically doing the job, not from what you read in a book or online. It’s completely different.

TAFE lined up an apprenticeship for me with ADCO Constructions and the first job I did with them was working on the new trades facility at TAFE. So I’m now learning in the building that I help to build!

Even though my dad wanted me to get a trade he was worried about me going into construction because it’s such a male dominated industry, but everyone at ADCO has been wonderful, I’m really enjoying myself there. I think that stereotypical idea of trades only being for blokes is fast disappearing.

My experience at TAFE has been fantastic. It’s a great opportunity and you learn so much. I would encourage any young woman who’s thinking about a career as a tradie to go for it.

Amanda Wedemeyer

Amanda Wedemeyer

Bachelor of Health (Hons) in Public Health
Griffith University

I first studied nursing at Griffith University in 1998 but didn’t finish because I got the travel bug, so I took a job as a flight attendant instead. Now I have a family and wanted to settle down so I’m pursuing a career in health once again. It’s very different coming back to study after so many years, the changes have been really incredible with so many advances.

To begin with I was really nervous returning as a mature age student and was worried about fitting in, but I met some wonderful young people at the outset during O Week and I’ve now become their uni mum! They all inspire me to do better because they’re all so smart, but I think I’ve inspired them too, having to raise 6 children while returning to full time study.

The teaching staff make a huge difference at Griffith – they’re friendly, approachable and experts in their field and no question is stupid as far as they’re concerned. I’ve been really lucky to have been mentored by some incredible lecturers that have helped me to continue my studies. I’ve already finished my degree and now I’m doing my honours and in October I start my PhD.

Ideally I’d like to go into research, I’m very passionate about public health and qualitative research. I went to Cambodia on a placement during my degree and it was life changing. I didn’t go there planning to enter public health, I wanted to be an embryologist, but the experience changed my whole way of thinking and my career path. If you had asked me 10 years ago if I wanted to study for a PhD I would have said no way, and yet here I am.

Amber Nancarrow

Amber Nancarrow

Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Information Technology
Griffith University

Originally I wanted to be a meteorologist and I was fully set up for it at school having written down my career plan where you basically map out your life in Year 10. Then when I topped my IT class which included the grade 11 and 12 curriculum the teacher sat me down and said “I don’t know why you’re doing all of this science stuff, get out of physics and chemistry, you should be doing IT. You can make a career out of this – it’s not hobby stuff, just do it!”

I went home, woke up the next morning and decided that he was right and I changed my career plans immediately. It was the best advice I ever received. I went into the Principal’s office that day and said: “tear up my career plan, I need to change direction”. We then rewrote the whole thing. That was five years ago and I’ve never doubted that decision. I’m now well into my IT degree and it’s definitely the best thing I ever did.

I chose to do a business degree as well because I want to have the means to run my own company one day. I want to be a software or app developer, making new platforms for people. It’s the world we live in, it’s where the opportunities are.

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