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Why it’s never too late to change your life circumstances

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your lot in life, it can be very easy to feel stuck.

Perhaps you’ve been busy raising kids, or working in a job you don’t like while trying to get ahead financially.

Sometimes, if you’ve been doing something for long enough, the status quo can feel like the only option. After all, can you really upend everything at 30, 40, 50 or 60 and expect to change the course of your life?

Lisa Golding believes you can. As a former florist and single mother who had always done it tough, she made a conscious plan about seven years ago to rethink her life and abilities.

Finding a pathway to university

Lisa’s life hasn’t always been particularly easy. She didn’t finish Year 12 and says she and her family have always struggled financially.  Her father, who died several years ago, was homeless for a time and battled substance abuse. No one else in her family had ever been to university. But Lisa knew something had to shift if she was to have a better life.

‘I helped my mother bring up my three other sisters. I never expected that I would be back studying so late in my life,’ Lisa says. ‘Although I never completed Year 12, I decided to change my economic, financial and social situation.’

She began by enrolling in a TAFE course at The Gordon in Geelong, which she says was ‘the perfect pathway’ into university. Now she has completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at Deakin, having graduated in 2019.

Plucking up the courage

Lisa says that plucking up the courage to return to study was a challenge.

‘I wasn’t sure whether I would get in. I just didn’t sort of have that confidence,’ Lisa recalls. Initially concerned about her age and the time needed to put into study, Lisa’s confidence swelled as soon as she was accepted into her course: ‘I was so excited when I knew that I got a place at university. I just knew my life would change.’

Even the thought of university was daunting, but Lisa, who describes herself as a ‘do-er,’ decided to just get on with it.

Lisa also says that learning to keep up with evolving technology is another highlight. ‘We’ve got great lecturers that have been out in the field, and they’re integrating old ways with new thinking.’

'I was so excited when I knew that I got a place at university. I just knew my life would change.'

Lisa Golding,
Deakin University graduate

So what’s it like being a mature age student?

Jumping back into uni after, say, 10 or 20 years in the workforce is certainly an adjustment. Lisa worked as a florist for 30 years – and loved the creativity of working with flowers. But she had never had the chance to get further educated until later in life.

So how did she cope with studying alongside students younger than herself?

Lisa says she doesn’t generally tell people her age, and doesn’t consider it important. ‘I don’t think age is a barrier there, we have a lot to give as older students.’

She likes the fact that she’s providing an example to not only her children, but also her wider family and community.

‘I must be the role model for my children. I say to my kids, ‘well you’re never too old to study because look at me,’ Lisa says.

Drawing on life experiences

Lisa Golding wants to use her life experiences for the greater good. Inspired by her father, she is hoping to undertake research on homeless men, with the aim of improving their situation.

‘I see myself working in remote areas. I would like to specialise in working with people in the Torres Strait Island. Indigenous health work interests me greatly,’ she adds.

‘Everybody has a gift to give in this world, and sometimes it takes a bit longer to realise what your gift is,’ Lisa says. ‘I have a lot to give to the world!’

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