Carolyn nurses her career back to health

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Carolyn Erenshaw’s ability to turn her life around through training has seen her selected as Challenger TAFE’s Vocational Student of the Year.

In less than three years at Challenger TAFE, the Birchmont resident has become a fully-qualified Aged Care Worker, and is now undertaking Registered Nursing at Murdoch University.

Until Carolyn came to Challenger TAFE, her dream of becoming a nurse had remained unfulfilled due to a variety of trying personal circumstances.

“I had to leave school early due to ill health, and then ended up in a very negative and abusive relationship,” she explained.

“I eventually left this situation, but had little confidence and self-esteem, as I had developed diabetes and was a single mother of two on a hardship pension.”

It was at this low point in her life that Carolyn noticed an advertisement for Challenger TAFE’s New Opportunities for Women (NOW) course that led to a Certificate II in Science qualification. With the help of lecturer Gwynneth Bennett, Carolyn was soon able to map out a pathway into further education and into her dream career in nursing.

“That first course I enrolled in taught me both the academic skills such as Maths and English, but also really useful practical skills in developing routines and managing my time,” she continued.

After completing the Certificate II, Carolyn was encouraged to enrol in Challenger TAFE’s Certificate III in Aged Care and Disability, and on the day she finished her training, was offered a position with a retirement community.

Despite still having the demands of home duties and child-rearing to attend to, Carolyn then undertook Challenger TAFE’s Certificate IV in Aged Care Studies, which she was able to complete via a family-friendly online process, and passed all the units in record time.

“Being able to study from home meant that I could work at my own pace, which was often while the kids were in bed, but the support I had from the lecturers made all the difference in helping me stay on track,” she said.

Carolyn completed her final Challenger TAFE qualification – the Certificate IV in Aged Care Nursing Combo – at the Peel Campus last year; and the two university units that were included have made for a smoother transition into her current Nursing Degree studies.

Aged Care Lecturer, Heidi Scantlebury, said that Carolyn was nominated for the Vocational Student of the Year, which is sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Applecross and Fremantle, by both her Challenger TAFE and Murdoch University lecturers.

“Her participation, attendance and support to other students is exemplary, and she has shown an incredible ability to produce high quality work,” Heidi explained.

“Carolyn is a fine example of how training can make a positive difference to a person’s life, and how even those who have had a false start in life, can still pursue opportunities and develop a satisfying career path.”

Having lived in several small country towns, Carolyn’s focus is now on becoming a remote community nurse, midwife or child health nurse.

“I am working towards my dream, my kids are proud of me, but most of all, I am proud of myself,” she said.

“University studies are another challenge as it will take me up to six years to complete my degree, but being recognised for my achievements is a great boost to my confidence.”

Challenger TAFE’s Access courses such as NOW, WOW and CGEA focus on developing confidence, building new skills, preparing for further training and improving employment options. The College’s Peel Campus offers a wide variety of these courses.

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