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Amanda completed her law studies off-campus with outstanding results whilst living in various remote parts of Western Australia and raising her two children.
Read Amanda's acceptance speech to learn more about her inspiring story...
"On behalf of myself and my fellow students here tonight, I'd like to thank Deakin for hosting this evening. I'd also like to thank the award sponsors and representatives who have taken the time to attend tonight's ceremony. On a personal note, I would also like to thank the Supreme Court for presenting me with my award.
I'd like to acknowledge all the assistance and support I've received from Deakin over these past few years whilst I've completed my degree.
When I started my degree, I was an at home mum with two young children. My family and I were living in a remote mining town in mid-west Western Australia (WA), which was quite isolated and had very few facilities.
The flexibility of being an off campus student has been vital to me being able to complete my degree. It has enabled me to live wherever my husband's work has taken us, as well as be available for my kids while they were little.
I have always appreciated the flexibility Deakin have offered me in relation to exam venues as well. As a remote student, I have sat exams at the local primary school, an English language centre and even a few hotels, depending on where I was residing at the time. I have often thought that at times I have probably seemed an expensive student to Deakin - particularly for exam venues where I have been the only student in the room sitting an exam.
There have also been negative aspects of being off campus too. Ask any off campus student of their biggest issue and they will all complain of the isolation from other students. At times this sense of isolation has been harder to cope with than the studies themselves. Not knowing how I was performing when compared to the rest of the class was always a concern, particularly given the competitive atmosphere of the job market that law graduates face.
Also, not being able to talk to lecturers face to face has also been difficult. Off campus students don't get to ask their lecturers stupid questions after class when no-one else is listening. Instead, we have to publicly post our questions on the online message boards. The process has taught me to be self reliant as well as to develop a fairly tough skin. Thankfully, the lecturers are amazingly diligent in responding online. Most have been incredibly helpful. In particular, Sharon Erbacher and Marlene Ebejer were brilliant in all of their units.
I'll also never forget how supportive Claire Macken was when my moot partner went AWOL and I had a meltdown about the whole process. It's these personal experiences with the lecturers that will always stay in my memory.
I was also astounded by the School of Law's response when I put forward my views on the new trimester system to my DUSA representative. I nearly died when I received an email response from Professor Anne Rees, the Head of the School of Law, to discuss those issues with me and to thank me for my input. It made me feel like a valued member of the Deakin community no matter how far away I was.
I would also like to note my appreciation of Deakin's fantastic library service for off campus students. The support offered by the librarians was brilliant and being able to access the entire library postage-free made all the difference when researching essays and during swot-vac preparation. It never ceased to amaze me how quickly the text books would arrive at my door, no matter where I was living in WA.
I would also like to thank my kids for always being understanding when I had to study, no matter how often the WA and Victorian school holidays never coincided. We have gone on numerous outings to fun centres, parks and the beach, where the kids have played with friends whilst I madly studied. I've lost track of the number of text books that I've had to shake clean of beach sand and strips of seaweed at the end of each trimester.
Lastly and most importantly, I'd like to thank my husband, Troy. Without his encouragement and support I don't think I would have had the courage to start my degree, let alone finish it.
After working for many years as a legal secretary, I was sure I could do the work of a lawyer, but I still needed the encouragement to actually take that first step and apply to study law. Waiting for my exam results at the end of that first semester to see if I'd managed to pass my first law units was painful for us all. It was with great relief and shock that I discovered I'd not only managed to pass, but I'd achieved top student as well. The angst of waiting for my results after sitting each exam was something I genuinely suffered with throughout my entire degree. Thankfully, my family always had more faith in me than I did.
There have been many times during my degree when I have been overwhelmed with juggling my life, work and my study load. On occasions I considered giving up. Each time this happened, my husband has always known when to listen, when to offer me support and when to tell me to stop complaining and start studying. He has often joked to me that either I would graduate with honours or I'd put him into a psychiatric institution with my studying drama - whichever occurred first.
My husband has patiently sat and discussed legal concepts with me when I was stuck and needed a sounding board. He probably knows as much about fiduciary duties and constitutional law as I do - notwithstanding his disinterest in the law and the fact he shudders at the thought of knowing any more about it. When I finally sat my last exam in February, my husband was as happy as if he'd completed the degree himself - and in some ways he nearly has.
Now that I've completed my degree, I've chosen work/life balance over a top-tier position. I've started my articled clerkship with a law firm in the South West of WA. The work is interesting and varied and I still get to be home with my family. I'm now looking forward to March next year when I'll finally be admitted as a lawyer.
My entire experience of studying with Deakin has been invaluable and rewarding. I would recommend the experience to anyone.
Read more about Amanda's experiences studying Law as an off-campus student.
Amanda receives her award from Professor Gael McDonald - Faculty of Business and Law Pro Vice Chancellor