Outstanding scholar Sarah Wright from Tea Tree Gully is Flinders University’s 100,000th graduate, receiving her Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Health Sciences today in a milestone ceremony that marks the end of an extraordinary educational journey for the mother-of-two.
To mark the occasion, Flinders flew in its very first graduate Professor Alan Easton to join Sarah on the stage for the conferral of her double degree.
Sarah took on five years of full-time study while working in retail and raising two young children to achieve her dream.
“When I began my double degree, my son Tyson was only three years old and I fell pregnant with my daughter in my fourth year,” says Sarah.
“Ellie was born prior to my final year of study, and my health education tutor allowed me to bring her to class so I didn’t fall behind.
“The other students often helped to take care of her and were very supportive throughout my pregnancy and into early motherhood, so being on campus with Ellie in my final year is now my most cherished memory of my time at Flinders,” Sarah says.
Inspired by teachers on a school trip to the snow as a volunteer, Sarah decided that her future lay in education and she decided to combine her teaching studies with her passions for health and physical education.
“I had never been to university before but I knew wanted to move my life forward and do something I was passionate about.
“I didn’t pass year twelve so I sat the Special Tertiary Admissions Test and got accepted into my first preference, which I was pretty stoked about.
“I never really considered any other university as Flinders offered exactly the degree combination I was looking for and I had friends already enrolled at Flinders who were having a great experience,” says Sarah.
Sarah is now undertaking relief teaching at Banksia Park International High School and is open to future possibilities.
“My next dream is to work in health education or health promotion and help children and the community make positive decisions about their long-term wellbeing.
“I am really happy where I am now. I’ve grown into an independent thinker and discovered a resilience inside myself that I didn’t know I had.
“Because of my time at Flinders, I felt very confident and qualified to transition into a live school environment and ask for help when I needed it,” Sarah says.
Sarah credits her brother as being her role model in life and at university.
“My brother lives his life to the absolute maximum and has an optimism and drive that makes me want to become the very best version of myself.
“To others in my position, who perhaps haven’t always known what they wanted to do in life, I would say be open-minded and positive and don’t worry if you haven’t got it all figured out straight away… just choose happiness and fulfilment when opportunity comes knocking,”
“Right now I feel so excited and proud,” says Sarah.
In addition to her double-degree, Sarah has also received a Chancellor’s Letter of Commendation for academic excellence.
Joining Sarah on stage to receive her parchment today will be Flinders’ very first graduate, Professor Alan Easton, who graduated 51 years ago in 1967 with a Master of Science (Physical Sciences).
Professor Easton followed up his Master’s degree with a Flinders PhD on Australian tides and went on to pursue an illustrious career as a teacher of mathematics to engineers, as well as a reputed mathematical ecologist and oil spill investigator. He is now 75 years of age.
“Growing up in the country I had no concept of university,” says Professor Easton.
“I was the first of my family to attend university, and as I progressed with my studies, my expectations grew.
“Flinders provided the platform for my career.
“It’s remarkable that half a century on from my degree I’m able to join Flinders’ 100,000th scholar as she takes her turn in the world as a Flinders alumna, with all the knowledge and work-readiness that this represents.
“I wish Sarah ever success and hope that she enjoys the same opportunities I did to make a difference in the world and live her life’s purpose,” Professor Easton says.