- Study at Deakin
- Campus life
- Industry and community
- About Deakin
It may not seem obvious, but Lee O’Hara sees a link between her current studies in marine biology at Deakin’s Warrnambool Campus and her previous career teaching English in Italy: Latin.
“I spent 22 years in Italy teaching English as a second language to business people. So Italy is a big thing in my life and one of the things I like about marine biology is that a lot of the terminology has a Latin base and is connected to Italian, so I can understand some things, not everything, but there’s a bit of a connection there,” says Lee.
Lee received a Bachelor of Arts from Monash University in the early 1980s, where she did English Literature and Latin, followed by a Diploma of Education. She then spent a year teaching in a secondary school before travelling to Italy.
Now back in Australia, Lee says she was drawn to study marine biology through her love of scuba diving and a desire to help sea creatures. She says this desire to help was particularly influenced when she returned to Aqaba on the Red Sea and found that in the space of only about 12 years “just about everything had died on the reefs there”.
As for the change from teacher to student, Lee is enjoying it, even if the experience has changed somewhat.
“I’m enjoying it; I like being a student again. I’m finding it so different with computers and the Internet. During my first degree I used to write assignments by hand and now you can sometimes submit them online. So the technology is really an incredible change.
“I love the course. It’s great fun; it’s interesting; it’s mentally stimulating; it’s a challenge and it’s something totally new to me because I have never studied biology before.”
The opportunity to do fieldwork is a particular highlight.
“Fieldwork is wonderful because you are experiencing things first-hand, instead of just reading about it in books. I’ve been out on the rocky shore, working in small groups with other students and identifying organisms and where they live. We’ve also been down to the Merri River where we did sampling with a dip net and then studied the relationship between body size and abundance in particular areas of the river.”
Lee’s advice for anyone thinking of returning to study after a break is simple: have a go.
“Definitely have a go and trust yourself. Don’t think “oh, gee I’m a bit older now, maybe my brain doesn’t work as well” or “maybe I won’t be able to do it, won’t be able to cope with it” because in my experience that’s not true. The brain works just as well now as it ever did, maybe even better, and I find I’m more focused now than I was in my twenties and more enthusiastic about my studies - it’s something I really want to do.”