Sam has an associate degree in education and is currently studying remotely to complete her Bachelor of Primary Education at the University of Southern Queensland. Samantha was a finalist in the 2020 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award and is the founder of the Rural Compass podcast.
University of Southern Queensland
Bachelor of Primary Education
Sam’s story in a nutshell
Sam is a 27-year-old woman living in Cunnamulla, Queensland, with her husband and two-year-old. In no particular order, she is an artist, a part-time university student, a Mum, a CEF Committee member and a big believer in the power of community.
Sam grew up in Toowoomba and almost immediately out of school began pursuing a career in art. Around this time she met her husband Scott, who was in town completing an electrical apprenticeship.
When Scott was offered a job in Cunnamulla the young couple moved there together. As Sam says, “we just packed up and made the move. It was pretty daunting at first, but the community here was so welcoming that we settled in pretty quickly.”
Soon after starting her new life in Cunnamulla, Sam began thinking about future employment options and realised she wanted/needed a qualification that would help her start and grow a career in the small town she now called home. So, she decided to bring her background as an artist together with an education degree to eventually qualify as a visual arts teacher in the secondary sector.
What does the support of the CEF mean to you?
Sam’s story is a little different to the usual CEF grant participant, mostly because she began studying in her twenties rather than straight after school and was juggling new motherhood and the move to remote Cunnamulla.
This all meant that the support of her CEF committee; providing advice and encouragement throughout the grant process and into her studies, was even more important.
“It was really encouraging to have that support,” Sam says, “I only had the grant for a couple of years because I signed up towards the end of my studies. But it gave me the motivation and accountability I needed to keep going.”
Sam started her degree in 2015 and is due to finish in 2021. She has always studied remotely and had to fit this in amongst helping out with her husband’s electrical business, her own art business and a two-year old son, with the couple’s second child due at the end of the year. Like all working mothers, Sam is juggling many balls!
…it gave me the motivation and accountability I needed to keep going.
The CEF grant was a lifesaver because it meant I could upgrade my technology and that meant I could easily login to my online courses.
Sam’s biggest challenge
“The biggest challenge for anyone studying in a rural area is access to technology,” Sam says.
“The CEF grant was a lifesaver because it meant I could upgrade my technology and easily login to my online courses, have enough space to save my subjects and assignments and spend all my time at my desk learning rather than fiddling around with hard drives and modems.”
Having the financial and moral support of her local CEF branch meant less friction for Sam when it came to accessing and completing her studies remotely.
And of course, the other big challenge for Sam is finding the time to study, but as she says, “the great thing about studying by distance is that even with having kids, I have been able to work around the degree or place it on hold when really necessary.”
Getting this grant meant that other people believed in me.
Would things have been different if you hadn’t received the grant?
“Being successful in my grant application absolutely impacted my choice to take on these tertiary studies,” Sam says. “I had already been accepted into the course but at the time I’d recently moved and started a new job and the grant gave me the encouragement to stay with the course.”
“It assisted me financially but also gave me the motivation to actually pursue and continue with my studies at a tricky time.”
Sam explains that while the financial support CEF offers its students is vital, the sense of self-worth and accountability can be just as important. “Getting this grant meant that other people believed in me and wanted to see me succeed, and that meant so much.”
Advice for others considering remote study
The biggest thing Sam says is to have a good support system and to know when to access it.
“If you are juggling work, family, remote access or any other challenges; you really need a good support foundation behind you and CEF is exactly that!”
Sam also encourages people to reach out and ask for help if and when you need it, “there’s no point in sitting out in the middle of nowhere, struggling on your own and then packing it all in because you couldn’t or didn’t want to ask for help.”
It’s so wonderful to be able to give back even a bit of the support and mentorship I received.
On giving back
Sam joined her local committee CEF Paroo and as she explains, “it’s so wonderful to be able to give back even a bit of the support and mentorship I received when I went through as an applicant.”
And having been through it all as a student herself, Sam has so much to offer applicants and students because she really has been there too.
“It’s just so lovely to see how proud everyone here is of every single student we are involved with.”
Speed round with Sam
The place you always take visitors to when they come to Cunnamulla?
It’s a cliche but the Cunnamulla Fella Statue!
Best study playlist?
Totally Stress Free on Spotify
Fantasy study group (like fantasy dinner party… if you could start a study group with any 5 people, dead or alive, who would they be?)
Maria Montessori, Henri Matisse, Frida Khalo, Emmaline Pankhurst and Alan Jones. A strange combination but some interesting conversations and opinions I am sure!
The one thing you never be without in your study/office?
A scented candle or essential oil diffuser to get you in the relaxed study mode.
Your favourite subject so far?
Surprisingly, anything visual art and also psychology based. I love learning about the psychology behind art and the thinking process to creativity.