It may have taken Caitlin several degrees and 20 years in the finance industry, but she's finally found her passion in law. Enrolling in an online law degree at CDU was an exciting, but big, step for her: she had to overcome limiting self-beliefs that she "wasn't smart enough" and find ways to juggle family and work while studying. Here's her story.
What motivated you to take on study?
Studying law was something I had thought about for a long time. Straight after matriculation I tried three different degrees without success, never feeling I had found what I really wanted to do.
It took me a long time to come to the decision, because, to be honest, I didn't think I was smart enough.
A career opportunity then took me into the finance industry where I have worked for over 20 years. In 2008 I decided to try my hand at a law degree. It took me a long time to come to that decision, because, to be honest, I didn't think I was smart enough. In addition, I had married and was pregnant with my first child. I kept hearing my father's voice (he passed in 1991 and was himself a lawyer and teacher), telling me 'you should have been a lawyer'.
Compelled to chase that dream, and with an inherent desire to see justice in action, I decided to embark on what I call one of the best decisions of my life. I also knew it would not be easy, but the desire for an intellectual challenge and to see what opportunities it would bring me was too strong.
My goals changed considerably as I moved through my degree. At first I thought I would be a commercial lawyer, then I wanted to pursue more environmental and human rights avenues, but in my final year, after winning a scholarship to a Harvard Law School, I found my journey had changed to a desire to pursue an academic career in teaching and research.
What do you like most about studying with CDU?
With full time work commitments and a young family, I couldn't attend a traditional university. CDU provided the exact learning platform and flexibility I needed.
CDU was perfect for me. With full time work commitments and a young family, I could not attend a traditional university and CDU provided the exact learning platform and flexibility that I needed. All my lectures were recorded so I could listen to them in my own time and most of my tutorials had after hours options. The technology worked brilliantly for me and I had very few hiccups. I also met so many amazing other mature aged students in similar situations with some now my closest friends.
Can you tell us a little more about some of your biggest challenges when deciding to study?
Time commitment with work and family was always my biggest concern along with ensuring that I actually did well in my studies.
Do you have advice for others that might be experiencing the same thing?
My advice is to take the tough trail, as it often reaps greater rewards than the straight road. You will know when you are ready, and even when in doubt, take a leap of faith in yourself. For time management I would advise to start slowly on a part-time mode to see how you go before taking on too much. Diarise and plan, attend your tutorials and ask as many questions as you need. Be involved in your tutorials, it is the best way to learn as is the best exam preparation. Enjoy what you study!
You will know when you are ready, and even when in doubt, take a leap of faith in yourself.
How do you plan to make a difference with your degree?
I have been very lucky to be able to realise the next chapter in my education. I am now a provisional PhD Candidate at another Law School in the Research Unit of Military Law and Ethics, pursuing a thesis in the area of Space Law. This is such an exciting area of law, much of which is still developing. I hope to contribute to the development of international laws and policies and to ensure Australia becomes a world leader in research in this area.
Any other comments?
The technology worked brilliantly for me and I had very few hiccups.
CDU is a fantastic university, especially if you are seeking a flexible, distance based, well supported degree. If you want to succeed CDU will provide you with brilliant opportunities and experiences to be involved hands on. I have met and learned under world class teachers who have encouraged, mentored and challenged me throughout my degree. I would not have chosen to do my degree with any other University.