UNE student Danielle with tips for mature aged students

Why it’s never too late to study…

Danielle McClintock began her Bachelor of Education (K-12 teaching) at the beginning of 2021. Which she is completing full-time, and online whilst caring for two you children.

In our series highlighting student/parent experiences, we spoke to Danielle about her passion for teaching, her university journey, and her experiences juggling the responsibilities that come with being a student and a mother!

Danielle’s story has been a joy to feature and has proven why “it’s never too late to change your own future for the better!

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m from a little town called Portland in far South-West Victoria. I have a husband Simon, and we have two primary school-aged children – Natalie and William who love their gymnastics and ninja warrior classes. My family spends a lot of time camping and we hope to start doing some bigger trips in the future like Cape York and the Northern Territory.

I have always enjoyed helping young people find their inner confidence and self-worth while building resilience and leadership skills which I did for around 7 years as an ANC Training Officer with the Australian Navy Cadets, and further inspired me toward studying a Bachelor of Education.

I have previously completed a diploma of music (classical) on trumpet, with minor studies in guitar and voice. It is a passion I thought I had lost in 2010 when I severely broke two of my fingers and my left wrist. I thought I would never be able to play again. After 7 years of feeling like I had lost part of my identity, I decided that I wasn’t going to let this injury control my life anymore; I started playing cornet again with the local Portland Citizens Brass Band (using a stand that holds my instrument for me).

What led you to study later in life?

It has always been a dream of mine to either be a teacher or a nurse. I completed my diploma of music when I first left school but decided at the time that moving to London was more important to me than doing an extra year to obtain a bachelor, and then my post-graduate education course. As a mature-aged student, I regret not sticking it out while I was young, but that’s in the past and it’s never too late to change your own future for the better. Studying while caring for my family has its challenges, especially with COVID-19 and home-schooling, but my life skills, supportive family, and a good routine have helped make it work.

Tell us something you enjoy about your student experience?

I really enjoy the ‘ah-ha’ moments in my studies, times where I felt like I didn’t understand or didn’t achieve the results I wanted, or when I had a realisation that what I was completing wasn’t as complex as I thought. I also really enjoy the moments when I receive a good mark, especially when it comes after a not-so-good-mark where I’ve taken on feedback from that assessment which resulted in my improvement on the next.  

What are your aspirations post-graduation?

The short answer is I want to achieve a simple and happy life with my family and friends whilst working in a career where I can make a difference!

When I was at school, I struggled to learn in any task that required memorising elements such as grammar and maths, this often resulted in low grades making me feel like I was not smart enough. What I discovered as a mature student is that I am capable, there is support, strategies, and short courses to help me in areas where I have struggled. I have also learned that I shouldn’t compare myself to others because there will always be someone that may appear like they are breezing through study and that’s great for them!

We need to celebrate these students’ success because sometimes their work ends up being very helpful assignment models for future students, and so their hard work creates a ripple effect of helping future students! Success isn’t about avoiding failure, rather it’s about getting up each time we fail and continuing until we succeed.

What does a “regular” day look like for you?

My regular day depends on whether we are in a lockdown or not. If we are not in a lockdown, my day starts with getting my children off to school, getting the housework, exercise, and daily cornet practice done before getting stuck into about 4 or 5 hours of study before picking the kids up from school, taking them to after school activities, and then home to make dinner and bedtime routines.

If we are in lockdown, the first 3-4 hours of the day involve home-schooling our children, then trying to get a few hours of study done between being a parent and other daily jobs.

What has been one of the biggest challenges to balancing your studies with parenting?

The biggest challenge has been the lockdowns and occasionally finding the motivation to get started with an assignment, otherwise, I am very routine-based. I complete a subject a day, with a spare day for starting assignments. I try to get ahead during the first few weeks of the trimester and always work on at least one assignment each week.

What has worked for you in staying on top of your commitments during the pandemic?

If I am falling behind or need to get an assignment done, I will spend the weekend studying while my amazing husband does both our share of the housework, but I always make time to do something that makes me happy like going for a walk, spending time with my family and friends, or playing music, because maintaining my mental health by doing the things I enjoy is an important part of my routine.

I am very lucky and grateful to have a supportive family, extended family, and friends who have loved, encouraged and believed in me throughout all the ups and downs of my journey, and I am looking forward to helping young people through a career in teaching.

Thank you Danielle for sharing your student experience with us! It is so lovely to learn what passions bring our students to study, and what they hope to achieve post-degree!

You are never alone at UNE. 

The team at Advocacy and Welfare are your independent Advocates, they’re always available to help you through any study or personal issues.