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27 April 2011
When Deakin University Law graduate and Bunbury resident Amanda Sommerville won the University's Supreme Court Medal for this year's top graduating student she started on the path to a law career trodden by another Bunbury resident, former Western Australian Supreme Court Justice David Malcolm.
However, while the former Justice Malcolm chose the University of Western Australia to start his law studies, Amanda looked interstate and completed her entire degree off-campus with Deakin.
It was she admitted tough way to do a law degree but ultimately rewarding.
It is also path she would encourage other adults living in remote areas to try.
"I would encourage others to try it and see if they like it, they have nothing to lose," she said. "You might have more potential than you originally thought."
Amanda worked as a legal secretary but when the family moved to Leeman, a small crayfishing town 300km north of Perth, there was no work suitable for a legal secretary with children.
"I thought doing a degree would be a good way to keep myself busy," Amanda said "and then I got the impetus to follow it through."
"I hadn't done Year 11 and 12 so my entry onto the course was gained via Deakin's special Law School Admission Test.
"My husband and family were so supportive by encouraging me, I enjoyed doing it."
Amanda said the main challenge she had faced were juggling study as the family moved from Leeman to Dongara to Singleton and back to Bunbury with the care of her children.
"My husband worked long hours in the mining industry and the isolation was hard," she said.
"You didn't have that network that you would have of being on campus with people to share with and to vent to at stressful times.
"But the lecturers went over and above in their support after hours through their emails and you become more self reliant."
Amanda said the University's library had been a god send.
"Deakin has so many more facilities if you are remote," she said.
"The text books used to come in the mail.
"And the library used to send me 20 books at a time, so I had access to the material I needed for my assignments.
"I would not have managed to do it without their support."
Amanda said she was enjoying doing her articles with Bunbury firm, Kroon Legal and not studying.
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