Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MADISON EASTMOND

RECOGNISED for her assistance, time and guidance shared around campus, Joan Lord, 44, is one of five women, studying at La Trobe University Mildura, to receive the Regional Women in Leadership $1000 bursary.

The bursary aims to acknowledge leadership in the Sunraysia community.

“I really don’t see myself as a leader,” Joan, PICTURED, said. “I just love sharing skills and ideas with others to empower and elevate them.”

The proceeds for the bursary were collected from La Trobe’s Annual Women in Leadership Forum – an evening of discussion that focuses on women in senior and leadership roles.

“University and study comes at a great expense, so any bit counts,” Joan said. “The financial support of the bursary means that I will not have to seek as much casual employment outside of university for the moment, which is what takes up valuable study time and also creates a great deal of stress.

“When I first found out that I had only 12 contact hours at university, I didn’t think it was that much, people generally don’t, but it is the all-encompassing study that surrounds those 12 hours that eats away your time.

“When living on one wage, and also trying to do well in the course you’re paying for, the stress of money can take over, and it can be very difficult to juggle.”

Joan, known to be an exceptional leader on campus while also involving herself when and where she can, said that she started volunteering at university in her second year, and from then on has put her hand up for “anything and everything.”

“Currently I have two paid positions on campus that helped me gain recognition for the bursary, those being a Peer Learning Advisor (PLA) and a Connect Leader,” she said. “There are eight PLA leaders on campus, and our roles include assistance with academic issues students might have.

“For example, we help with academic writing and references, things that are required at university, many might not have done that during their high school experience. 

“So we all try to help as best we can, often I come away learning something as well! I just really enjoy being able to help a student, I find it really fulfilling!

“I’ve also been able to fill some admin roles, such a rostering different PLAs, which I also really enjoy.

“A Connect Leader on the other hand is a role that deals with, and manages, new students on campus, particularly during orientation, we are that face to make the experience of university that little bit easier and less daunting.

“We help to ease those into the structure and the campus – we’re a friendly face!”

Beginning her course three years ago, Joan said that she soon began to realise that her true passion resided in teaching. 

“I worked in admin and finance for roughly 20 years, I grew to love the aspects of my previous jobs that involved training, and adjusting content for my colleagues,” she said.

“I was just finding I wasn’t as satisfied with my current position then, so I thought why not?

“Another major factor in picking up study was my huge love for learning, I would study and learn for the rest of my life if I could!

“You’re never too old, and although the circumstances needed to be right, and such an adjustment was tricky, I knew I could do it if I set my mind to it.

“Through this I have felt a strong sense of belonging to La Trobe University, and will be quite sad to leave at the end of this year, the main reason I chose the Mildura campus is because it is in my home town and community, and where the majority of my family and friends live.

“Of course I wanted to remain close to home, therefore saving money, but I found the Mildura campus offered everything that I needed to succeed in my degree as well.

“I actually think that we are spoilt in Mildura, we have a smaller number of students on campus, which means that we create a real sense of community, and also have the opportunity to genuinely get to know the lecturers and support staff.”

Joan is passionate and excited to start her new career, hoping over the next couple of years to gain employment at a local primary school.

“I am passionate about educating children not only academically, but also socially and emotionally,” she said. “I believe it is incredibly important today to create open-minded and resilient students who are able to problem solve as they continue through their schooling, and also in their chosen careers.

“The children that I will be teaching will grow up to be future leaders in our community and our country, so teaching in a holistic way will hopefully shape my students into resourceful, productive and caring global citizens.”