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I call them the noble professions, teachers and doctors. The backbone of our society, the ones who quietly bring dedication, passion and lifelong commitment to making a difference in the lives of those who cross their path. For some reason our family has been attracted to these professions with generations of both teachers and doctors weaving their thread across cultures and continents, changing lives.

Allow me to share with you something special that happened in our own family this week – two of our daughters were officially welcomed into these wonderful professions with one graduating as a teacher and another as a doctor. And so we continue the generational story and keep building the legacy.

As a parent my heart has been filled with many emotions, joy and anticipation right up there! Joy at sharing their celebration and witnessing their deep seated sense of achievement, recognized by peers, friends and family alike. Anticipation of all the doors that are now opening as they begin their professional life.

These graduations are milestones that stand out as being exceptional, significant and life changing. It’s that time of the year when graduations are happening in faculties all around the country, with thousands of families reflecting on their academic journey.

Make no mistake, it takes years to attain tertiary education with everyone in the family involved in some way, practically, emotionally and financially. There was one graduating doctor I met whose parents arrived in Australia in a refugee boat some years ago, and sheer hard work enabled them to offer their son this opportunity. Another student who has worked four nights a week his entire degree to fund his course. They are an inspiration.

I know there are many students out there still on the ‘learning journey’, so thought I’d share with you some of my insights gleaned along the way as a parent:-

  • It’s OK to not know what you’d like to study when you leave school. Actually it’s ‘normal’! There are bound to be course changes, time out and career changes along the way. What matters is your commitment to learning, and an understanding that education is valuable. Don’t take it for granted – every piece of new learning is a solid brick in building a stairway to a better life.
  • Start with the end in mind. Some call this your Vision, your Noble Goal or your Purpose. Perhaps it’s an image of how you see yourself in a few years’ time, and what you would like people to be saying about you. What difference are you hoping to make in the world, what lives will you have touched? Every time you don’t feel like attending that lecture, signing on to complete an online unit – think of this Noble Goal. It’ll help you make the ‘right’ long term decision and choice for you!
  • Write down a Personal Affirmation, who you are and what you would like to achieve in your lifetime. What you mean to others and what they mean to you. It will become your own personal Mission Statement, and align to your values. Keep referring back to it – it’ll help you make congruent academic choices.
  • Find a way to lead a balanced life while you are studying; stay in touch with your friends, socialize and keep playing sport. Become involved in your Community though volunteering your time and energy into a good cause. Grab every opportunity that comes your way to make a difference to the life of another person.
  • start planning your days and weeks. Perhaps do a Google search to find Planning, Prioritizing and Time management Apps to help you develop great life/study habits.
  • Challenge yourself to get a part-time job as soon as you’re legally able to – start developing the networks and social skills involved in working with people of all ages and from all walks of life.
  • There are going to be times when the assignments and assessment feel overwhelming, and you want to withdraw from your course entirely. Most students experience this at some stage. I encourage you to reach out to student services, counselors, a mentor or coach, your family or a trusted friend. Share your feelings and debrief;get the support you need – you may have to dig deep to find that ‘grit’ to persevere through the tough times.
  • Strech your thinking – when something feels impossible, find a way to look for the positives and the opportunities.
  • Develop a Growth Mindset – it creates a path to mastery in everything you do. Learn from your mistakes, give it all you’ve got and challenge yourself to keep thinking, ‘What’s next? What else can I learn?’Our newly qualified teacher and doctor experienced all of the above. They changed courses, tried withdrawing, felt overwhelm and uncertainty. What I feel most proud of is that they were able to reach out for support and find the ‘grit’, the perseverance and the incredible effort that is required to see it through to the end.And so they have climbed the academic stairway and reached a milestone in their lives. Doors have opened and jobs beckon, and the learning journey continues. It is lifelong, a privilege and the chance to truly start making a difference to people’s lives through meaningful and dedicated hard work.It is with a great sense of pride that I welcome them, along with all new graduates, into the next phase of their lives – may every day bring you that sense of fulfillment that comes from finding meaning and purpose in life.You have worked so hard for what you have attained – make the most of the celebrations and hopefully a rest over the festive season before you launch into your full time working life. We are all blessed to have you!Cheers Alison

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