Career change a chance to transform lives

CQUniversity is expanding its Bachelor of Psychological Science, offering the course on-campus in Cairns from 2019.

It’s already popular with on-campus and distance students alike – Cairns-based mature-age student Dafne Correia shares her journey in psychology, and what motivated her to pursue a career in mental health.

I’m originally from Denmark, but I’ve lived in Cairns for 13 years, and moving here seemed like a good chance to go back to uni.

I’d started a Bachelor of Laws in 2014, but while I was studying, things were happening around me that made me start thinking about psychology. I was realising how often the warning signs are missed when people are having a mental health crisis, and how help just isn’t there. And that’s true for everyone, from little children, right up to the elderly.

In 2015, I came to CQUni and started doing the Bachelor of Psychological Science by distance. To be honest, I’d never studied online before, and I didn’t think it was going to work out! But I’ve been impressed by how much CQUni can put online, and make it accessible for any student who has an internet connection. I do miss the connection with other students though, and the benefits of classroom discussion.

I know study can be boring, but from the start psychology has been exciting to me because it’s a field where you never know what’s coming around the corner, it encompasses the whole of humanity! I like discovering information that isn’t widely available, that answers so many questions about society’s problems at the moment.

Until now, my career has been in maritime shipping, in legal and financial support – I spent six years at sea on cruise ships, dealing with passports, visas, which nationalities can access which countries, even taxes and managing different currencies.

In that world, you see a lot: rescues at sea, other boats in trouble, people getting sick and needing evacuation, the refugee situation that’s been happening for quite a few years. The instability of society at the moment is scary and overwhelming, life is really hard compared to when I grew up, and my childhood.

For nearly three years, I’ve also volunteered in Cairns with Centecare Multicultural Services, and for a year and a half I’ve been supporting a family from Myanmar who came here as refugees. I’ve seen them every week since they arrived, and can help them with everything from how to go shopping, to how to change a lightbulb! Until they arrived in Cairns they’d lived their entire lives in refugee camps, so Australia is like another world to them – it shows how vulnerable people can be, and it’s rewarding how much difference one person can make.

If you can help someone’s burden to become less, and empower them to have happier circumstances – that’s important to me. I do believe that’s in everyone’s capacity to give a hand to others. That’s why I want to go into child protection – you need to protect the innocent, and those that can’t protect themselves.

Being a mum definitely made me more interested in psychology – my son is 17, and he would never admit to it, but he does ask my opinion on mental health stuff! So he does see my studies as making me a bit of an expert. (And he’s decided he wants to study forensic science, so it’s nice to know he’s had a bit of inspiration from me!)

As well as preparing me for a career change, study is a way to keep me up-to-date with technology and social issues – I’m curious by nature and I like learning, so I have the motivation.

Having a Bachelor of Psychological Science is useful for so many careers – it’s applied science, so it’s relevant to everything! I recommend it to a lot of people who want to study but aren’t sure what field they want to go into.

And of course, you develop a sixth or seventh sense for psychology when you’re a mum. Let’s face it, you need to when you’re managing your family – and your husband! I’ll be glad when I have the piece of paper saying I’ve got the degree, and then they have to listen to my expert opinion!

Head to CQUniversity Cairns Open Day on Sunday, 12 August from 9am – 1pm to chat to the Psychology and Public Health team about supportive and accredited study options across undergraduate, honours and postgraduate programs. Plus tours, industry panels, workshops, competitions, and more.

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