International Rural Women’s Day – celebrating our students

14 Oct 2021

On International Rural Women’s Day, we celebrate the women in our community who are making strides in our community. The Country Universities Centre Macleay Valley is a place where we see our rural women thrive.

“Now is the time for women. It is time for us to discover, take charge and go for the things we want”, nursing student Cindy says.

Though as a young woman in high school, Cindy gave up on the idea of going to uni even though it was a dream for her. She felt discouraged from going like it wasn’t something she should aspire to and it would be too expensive.

Many years later, after having the opportunities to work, raise children, do some travel, and moving to a rural property she thought this is my time to go to university.

“​My life has been very full,​ owning and running a businss with my husband, working part-time over the years, and raising our two beautiful daughters, though I got to a point where I kept asking myself what’s next? and with some encouraging words of it is never too late the answer was studying a degree in Nursing at the University of Newcastle.”

Cindy took a Special Tertiary Admissions Test, and scored herself the marks needed for Nursing.

“Going from working, farming and being a mum, and adding in becoming a student was a huge adjustment,” Cindy says.

But the support of Cindy’s family has been crucial to her success and the connections she has made with her fellow nursing students. Cindy’s connections at university helped her settle into study, and make friends that have common ground.

“It was so important to have people to debrief about my studies with”, she advised.

This helped her thrive. So much so that Cindy’s continued work ethic led her to become a university scholar. Meaning her marks were some of the highest among her nursing cohort.

Cindy was also awarded a scholarship to travel to Cambodia to help run a health clinic. Along with other health students, Cindy did health promotion in schools as well as running women’s health workshops.

“I didn’t just want to go to university and settle for just passing, I want to make the most of it and learn as much as I can so I can be the best nurse I possibly can. My favourite quote is, that dreams don’t work unless you do.”

It hasn’t always been easy for Cindy. Like many others in the valley, she has suffered through the drought, fires and floods which directly affected her property and lost many head of cattle.

Enough to make anyone want to give up. But Cindy persevered through these testing times and continued her studies. Cindy is currently in the last semester of her nursing degree and can often be seen in the CUC Macleay Valley tutorial room for hours on end to get her studies done.

Cindy is just one student. Over eighty percent of the students at the Country Universities Centre Macleay Valley are women who are pursuing higher education.

Women studying and accessing education is hopeful for future generations to then study at the university.

The Centre’s Chair of the Board is Mayor Liz Campbell. A local woman who has given years of service to see that the Macleay Valley will prosper for future generations.

“This Centre has been a vision for the valley for over 10 years, and already we see so many students accessing this resource and changing the game for education in the shire,” says Mayor Liz Campbell.

Learning and education are giving opportunities to women to take charge of their future. Rural women play a crucial role across the globe in agriculture, food security and nutrition – but there are significant gaps when it comes to the gender pay gap and access to education. In the Macleay Valley we are changing that narrative.

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