A global journey for Coffs Harbour graduate speaker

Published 17 June 2019
Nicole Williams Nursing graduate Nicole Williams

Nicole Williams has been inspiring her peers since she began a nursing degree four years ago.

The single mum of two young kids says sometimes the difference between those who achieve their dreams and those who don’t is ‘simply signing up’.

“When people ask how I achieved it all, I reply I just did it – and I made no excuses. I tell them they too can do the same thing if they simply put their name down and take the opportunities that follow,” said Nicole reflecting on when she took the plunge to start a Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour campus.

Nicole will receive her testamur this Friday (21 June), where she is the graduate speaker for Health and Human Sciences delivering an address on behalf of 150 of her University peers. Earlier this year she secured a full-time new-graduate position at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital and has begun her two-year rotation in the Community Health sector.

“I have always worked in the hospitality and retail industries, where I was constantly assisting people and doing things for them, which I loved, but I wanted to do so on a larger scale and in a more meaningful way,” she said.

“When I looked into nursing and discovered the vast opportunities and areas I could work in I thought ‘I could do that’ and I was right, I absolutely love it. I especially love working as a nurse in Community Health.

“Community Health is a public health service which provides nurse assisted healthcare to people within the community setting. We have a hospital clinic where outpatients can come in and be seen and we also do home-visits. We assist people with various health issues from acute and chronic wound care and health conditions, post-operative care and make referrals to other required services and much more. Our aim is to help people better their health and maintain wellness, and avoid any unnecessary hospital admissions.”

Nicole has become first in her family to receive University education and was named on the Dean’s Honours list for Academic Excellence. Alongside her hard work and dedication Nicole credits her academic achievement in part to Southern Cross University’s award-winning 12-week Preparing for Success Program (PSP) before embarking on undergraduate study.

“My advice to people who want to return to study is to definitely do the Preparing for Success Program. It really set me up to know how to navigate the learning site, manage emails, essay and article writing and it’s where you learn all the pointers for how to study effectively without sacrificing marks at the beginning of your actual degree,” she said.

Nicole took every opportunity she could while at University, with placements in multiple local hospitals, volunteering at a week-long Kidney Camp with 100 children with kidney problems on the Gold Coast, and embarking on an interdisciplinary overseas placement to Cambodia, all while balancing parenting and part-time work in retail and as an assistant nurse.

“I loved getting to know the other students, we created peer groups and study groups to help each other succeed, and the overseas placement made us so confident in our ability to rely on our skills, knowledge as well as utilising the people around us,” she said. “I have certainly gained many friendships that will last a lifetime.”

“The staff at Southern Cross are amazing, they really put their heart and soul into their teaching, which makes everyone else really passionate too. Southern Cross set me up so well for the Registered Nurse position that I’m now in, and helped a lot with the whole application and interviewing process to secure graduate employment.

“As the graduate speaker, I will be congratulating all the graduates on their wonderful achievement as well thanking our family and friends for all their love and support through this special journey. I know could not have done it without the help and encouragement of my best friend, family and support network.

“I am so proud of this achievement and it is an honour to make my kids proud, I’m excited they will be there to celebrate with me.”

Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour business alumnus, wellness coach and author Bella Zanesco, who won the 2018 Vice Chancellor’s Alumnus of the Year Award, will deliver the occasional address at the graduation ceremony on Friday.

The future of health at Southern Cross University

The state-of-the-art Allied Health Facility under construction at Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour campus will open its doors to the public in late 2019.

The $12m project will house the University’s innovative allied health degrees and research on offer, with the Federal Government also guaranteeing an additional $12.9 million over four years for student places in a range of health-related disciplines at the Coffs Harbour campus.

Applications for mid-year entry to start study in July are now open for a range of degrees such as the Bachelor of Nursing, midwifery, business, arts/education, occupational therapy, social welfare, sport and exercise science, psychological science, including double-degrees in law/psychology and exercise science/psychology, and the award-winning Preparing for Success Program (PSP).

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or jessica.nelson@scu.edu.au