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Graduates Harriet and Ashleigh share learning journey

Harriet Pennington and Ashleigh Agius
Harriet Pennington and Ashleigh Agius received their bachelor certificates at the Bundaberg graduation ceremony on Thursday, 9 December.

CQUniversity occupational therapy graduates Harriet Pennington and Ashleigh Agius have led different lives, but their passion for helping others is a shared trait that has radiated throughout their studies.

The recent graduates received their bachelor certificates at the Bundaberg graduation ceremony on Thursday, 9 December, where Harriet provided a moving speech as the 2021 student graduate speaker.

Hailing from the UK, Harriet and her family moved to Australia in 2012 and settled into Bundaberg, where she and her twin sister completed high school.

Harriet said she decided to study a teaching degree with CQUniversity but soon realised teaching was not for her and chose to pursue a career in the healthcare field.

“I remember a guest speaker coming to our high school who was an amputee,” Harriet recalled.

“He brought with him his modified car and made mention to occupational therapy and the support he had received.

“I always knew I would end up in healthcare and decided to research it a little bit more.

“Admittedly, I wasn't fully aware of everything occupational therapy entailed before I began the course, but after my first couple of lectures, I knew I was in the right course.

“I'm so glad that I studied with CQUni because I had the most personalised study experience. I never felt like a number in the system.”

Harriet said the highlight of her study was participating in the graduate conference, where graduating students showcase their professionalism and advanced skill sets at the student-driven conference.

“Throughout our study, we watched each graduating year participate in the conference.

“Delivering it ourselves was such a surreal feeling and it really cemented the fact that we were graduating,” she said.

While studying, Harriet said she was faced with challenging times, but all the trials and tribulations of her experiences made her more resilient today.

The graduate is exploring her options in Bundaberg and in Brisbane to make sure she secured a role in a field that she loves.

“I plan to work in a metro area at some point in my career, whether it is this year or next. I also have a particular interest in occupational justice and would love to take on an advocacy role at a larger level further in my career.”

While Harriet hunts down the perfect job for her, fellow graduate Ashleigh Agius has secured her dream job working as a registered occupational therapist at the Friendly Society Private Hospital.

“I am very blessed to have already secured a position at the Friendlies Hospital in such a diverse role as I was hoping for,” Ashleigh expressed.

“This position allows me to develop skills within many fields of occupational therapy and learn from an amazing senior therapist who will guide me to success.”

After a career as a dental and medical administration assistant spanning more than ten years, Ashleigh said she knew from a young age that she wanted to work in a field where she could help others.

“I chose occupational therapy because I really wanted to pursue a career where I could help people to the best of my abilities and enjoy a varied career at the same time,” she said.

“I didn’t think twice about studying with CQUni. I wanted to stay in town with my family and my partner, and CQUni allowed me to complete the degree I wished without having to relocate, which was amazing,” she said.

Throughout the completion of Ashleigh’s degree, she said juggling her studies and working while trying to maintain a social life was difficult but worth it in the end.

Ashleigh is enjoying paediatrics and acute in-hospital work and said she is excited to extend her knowledge further and see what the future had in store for her.

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