Like so many mature women, this ordinary 48-year-old mother of five at times doubted her ability to continue study at tertiary level, to win any academic accolades or even to score a paying job.
But that doubt was turned into euphoria today as the dynamic mum stepped up to the podium, not only to graduate but to receive a prestigious university medal for academic excellence.
In fact she won the first ever university medal given to a naturopathy student.
"Women like me who have spent years at home mothering and running a household often think they haven't got any skills and couldn't possibly do well at university," said Ann, who now tutors in nutrition at SCU while doing a PhD.
"But I want to tell them they in fact they have amazing skills and a wealth of life experiences. They can do anything they set their mind to.
"I spent 14 years at home with my children, two of whom have special needs and for a while I thought that role was going to define my life.
"Then I decided not to let my own pre-conceived barriers stop me from doing something I dreamed of doing all of my life.
"There comes a time in life when you need to step up and become the person you have always wanted to be, to live up to your dreams and aspirations.
"At times I despaired of ever getting through my four-year degree, but my husband, Chris, was always there encouraging me to keep going.
"Now I feel a tremendous sense of achievement and my life has taken off in a completely different and exciting direction."
Ann graduated from her Bachelor of Naturopathy degree with Honours, having spent last year studying the effects of the milk protein lactoferrin on the immune response.
This year, Ann received an Australian Post Graduate Award to undertake her three-year PhD, the focus of which will be to study the effects of stress and its influence on the endocrine and immune systems. Next year she also expects to graduate with a Graduate Certificate in Research Management.
As for the future, she hopes one day to do further study overseas and ultimately to continue research into stress, anxiety and depression.
Recipients of 2005 Southern Cross University Medals are:
School of Psychology: Tabitha Jean Phelps, Victoria Jane Smith.
School of Social Sciences: Lesley Alison Pope.
School of Natural and Complementary Medicine: Ann Michelle Mulder
School of Arts: Lainie Yvette Jones, Nicholas Mattingly.
School of Law and Justice: Alanna Jane Coxon, Elizabeth Jane Dawson.
School of Commerce and Management: Peter Clive Haywood.
School of Tourism and Hospitality Management: Matthew James Lamont.
School of Environmental Science and Management: Crystal Adele Maher.
School of Exercise Science and Sport Management: Rosalind Beavers.
The medallists were among 670 graduates who received their degrees today in Education, Natural and Complementary Medicine, Nursing and Health Care Practices, Arts, Law and Justice as well as the Graduate College of Management.
A further 522 students will be graduating next Saturday, April 29, from the Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples and the Schools of Commerce and Management, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Multimedia and Information Technology, Social Sciences, Environmental Science and Management
and Exercise Science and Sport Management.
Media contact: Zoe Satherley 66203144 or 0439 132 095.