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A family affair at SCU Coffs Harbour campus


25 November 2003
When Sandra Canney, a 42-year-old mother of four teenage boys, decided that she wanted to go to university she was not sure what sort of reaction she would get from her husband George.

To her surprise, he not only supported her move but decided that after 30 years as a panel beater he also wanted to go to university.

Sandra and George have just completed their first year at Southern Cross University’s (SCU) Coffs Harbour campus and next year will be joined on the campus by their second eldest son, Nathan, making study a real family affair.

Sandra is doing a Bachelor of Psychology, George is doing a Bachelor of Social Science, and Nathan is planning to do a Bachelor of Education in Design and Technology.

Sandra said when she first thought about going to university she didn’t think she would be accepted.

“I always wanted to go to university, but never had the opportunity to go. I stayed home and looked after four kids. I didn’t think I would be given a place here,” Sandra said.

Despite having been out of the workforce and not having studied for more than 20 years, Sandra said she had thoroughly enjoyed her first year and they had both managed a couple of high distinctions.

To help ease the transition into study, both completed a Tertiary Preparation Program, run by the SCU’s Division of Business, and taught themselves how to type.

“We were really surprised that we both have done so well. We feel the Tertiary Preparation Program really gave us a good start,” Sandra said.

George, who decided to have a change in career after 30 years in the automotive industry, said the idea of fulltime study was daunting at first.

But he said he was not only impressed with the SCU staff, but also the cultural awareness and recognition of the Indigenous Gumbayngirr people as the original custodians of the land.

“We found most of the staff here to be extremely helpful. After doing the Preparation Program it didn’t take us long to feel part of what’s going on here. It’s been excellent.”

Nathan, who has just finished Year 12 at the Coffs Harbour Senior College, is now also doing the preparation course in a lead-up to his first year at SCU.

Ms Polly Wells, SCU Learning Assistance Adviser, said the Tertiary Preparation Program provided school leavers and people returning to study a distinct advantage. The course covers critical reading and research skills, report and essay writing, referencing techniques and presentation skills.

“Past experience has shown successful completion of the program to greatly facilitate the student’s transition to formal university studies,” Ms Wells said.

As a result of the high demand for the current program, the Division of Business is considering another Tertiary Preparation Program early in February. Anyone interested should contact Carole Davis on 66593195.

CAPTION: Keeping it in the family …. George and Sandra Canney, and their son Nathan, will all be studying fulltime at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus next year.

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.