Jenny Yates studied at Deakin as a mature-age student and went on to become a published author.
Career path and highlights
Before I retired I was an IT project manager. My writing abilities amounted to tediously writing processes, checklists, how-to manuals and training modules.
Two major life highlights have eventuated later in life for me. I was invited to become a member of the Golden Key Society, which I considered a real honour. Also my memoir, The Vine Bleeds, was recently published by Brolga, and it is being distributed by Pan MacMillan.
Karen Le Rossignol, who launched the book at Deakin, said it was the culmination of what feels like a birth process. How right she was. This true story provides special insight into family violence and childhood memory. It demonstrates the effect domestic violence may have on the life choices children affected by it make. It took a long time and courage to tell my story and confront my past, but it is quite liberating.
To find out more about Jenny’s memoir visit thevinebleeds.wordpress.com.
Q&A with Jenny Yates
What were some of the memorable experiences you had at Deakin?
Studying at Deakin was a truly positive experience, although, as a very mature-age student, it was somewhat challenging at times. When I went to school, so long ago, research skills were not taught. Teachers scribed learning material on the blackboard, students copied the information and learnt it parrot fashion. Studying at university was a totally different experience. I was privileged to build constructive relationships with my tutors. Always prepared to help, my tutors provided sage advice when I was overcome and lost. In my early days I also found Deakin Life and Support a lifesaver. The organisation provided advice on study skills, essay writing, and numerous other support services in areas that I found difficult to navigate in my first days at Deakin. Although I was always the oldest student in a lecture or tutorial, I found that I was continually learning from the younger students. I used to enjoy sitting in the library watching the younger people study, interact, have fun and help each other. From my first day at Deakin I felt a sense of achievement. I was deprived of the privilege of a university education as a young person but attending in later years made me feel younger.
Did you learn anything from your Deakin studies to take directly to the workforce?
I cannot tell you how much I have learnt which has benefited me since I graduated. I had wondered how studying for a degree could improve my writing because I believed writing could not be learnt, but rather it was a gift. How wrong I was. My book would never have been published without the knowledge and ‘how to’ I received from my tutors and the help and advice from fellow students. During writing workshops I agonised over having my writing critiqued as the students did not hold back. However, I took on board what they said and I believe the workshops were paramount in helping to get my book published.
Can you give any advice to our current students?
I think, above all, every student should endeavour to enjoy the experience and this is especially so for the mature-age student. So much can be learnt from younger people; their vitality, confidence and ways of learning can be infectious. It is possible to achieve your dream, no matter your age or previous education, I did. I left school at Year 10 and obtained my degree graduating with distinction at the age of 72. Identify your own strengths and build on them, and remember each assignment in your academic life is a step towards achieving what you desire to be.