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Lyn Swinburne
Trained Primary Teachers Certificate 1972
Geelong Teachers College

I studied...
At Deakin University at what was then known as the State College of Victoria in Vines Road Geelong, in a series of pre-fab buildings with very little charm.

I graduated...
With a Trained Primary Teachers' Certificate mid-way through 1972. I was meant to graduate at the end of 1971, however I failed 'pottery' and was required to repeat this subject in first semester the following year. I was a recipient of a government studentship and the funds were received every second Thursday. Attending pottery sessions first thing on a Friday morning therefore proved an enormous challenge!

I'm currently...
CEO of Breast Cancer Network Australia - the peak national organisation representing women with breast cancer. I founded BCNA in 1998, five years after my own diagnosis with breast cancer.

I chose Deakin because...
It chose me! I had been living in Melbourne with my family and was surprised to learn that I was to be a student in Geelong. In those days studentship places were allotted across the state and many students came from as far afield as Gippsland, bypassing Teachers' Colleges in Frankston, Burwood and Melbourne on the way. This meant that there was a great spirit of togetherness engendered in the students, with the majority coming from out of the Geelong area and many living away from home for the first time.

After leaving Deakin I...
Was sent to teach in Melbourne's western suburbs, which suited me just fine. Again, in those days it was not a case of choosing where one taught. Usually on the final day, the Head of the College would announce the places where students were to be sent for their first teaching jobs. The news was delivered against a backdrop of gasps, shrieks, applause and often tears.

Looking back, I wish...
I could experience it all over again. It was a wonderful opportunity to study the theories of learning and then to apply these in classroom situations during teaching rounds. We were the first batch of students allowed to wear pants on teaching rounds, previously all female students were expected to wear skirts. One standout memory for me was being chosen to play the leading lady in the College production of 'The Pyjama Game'. The social life at GTC was fantastic and I cherish many close life-long friendships as a result.

Today, I am motivated by...
Those who are active participants in life. In my daily role I get to meet people who make the most of their opportunities, get involved within their communities, are considerate of others and use their energies to really get things done.

In my profession it is important...
To maintain a strong focus, to be absolutely clear about what the organisation should be doing and how it can best help women.

Professionally, my proudest achievement has probably been...
To develop and deliver the concept of the Field of Women LIVE at the MCG in May 2005. This saw 10,500 women in pink ponchos and 100 men in blue stand in our pink lady shape representing Australia's breast cancer statistics for that year. It was an extraordinarily powerful image seen around the world.

I never dreamed I would...
Create such a powerful and influential organisation. In the beginning, it was a matter of getting together a few other breast cancer survivors around me to see how we might improve the delivery of services to women. We currently have over 57,000 women linked together around Australia and many of our programs have been picked up at an international level.

I feel a strong connection with...
Women who have experienced breast cancer. No matter how different we are in our politics, social groups and individual beliefs, it is a shared experience that binds us together. I speak with many women who are newly diagnosed, and this reminds me of the fear, the uncertainty and often the sheer terror that a diagnosis of cancer can bring.

This is important because...
It keeps me grounded in reality. Theories and big picture considerations are important, but BCNA prides itself in maintaining its focus on the individual woman and her needs.

Success to me is...
A changing phenomenon. Sometimes it's as simple as seeing one woman empowered enough to seek a second opinion when she is not happy with her care.

In the future I'd like to...
Know that a cure has been found for cancer. Then I could spend more time working on my golf handicap.

The single-most important issue in the world is...
Keeping things simple. We can be easily lured by the complications and pressures of modern, sophisticated living. We should remind ourselves of the simple pleasures and wonders of life.

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Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

21st June 2011