Through bushfires, floods, a pandemic, working full-time and the death of both her parents, University of New England (UNE) graduand Jo Taylor has finally finished her university degree after several years.
"There were plenty of opportunities where I basically said to my husband, 'why am I doing this?'" Mrs Taylor said.
"If I didn't believe in what I had to say, and in the power of publishing those ideas, I probably would have given up."
Mrs Taylor signed up for a Masters of Education (research) and as part of her thesis she undertook in-depth research on how to teach teachers how to better manage their classrooms and improve student engagement.
"It's basically just like a sport-coaching relationship, it's about saying, 'these are the things you're doing that are effective, so do more of that'," Mrs Taylor said.
"As a coach, I would run workshops and then I would go to their classroom and work with them on certain skills and areas of practice."
Mrs Taylor will be among hundreds of students to gather on the lawn at UNE on Thursday, December 7, as part of the graduation ceremony for those studying the arts and social sciences, such as education, history, criminology and political and international theories.
UNE professional staffer Trish Wright was chosen by the university to deliver the key message on the day because of her 45-year career there assisting students from the sidelines of academia.
"I talk a little bit about my life. It started pretty rocky. I didn't know my father. My mother died at a young age. I ended up in a Coventry home as a young girl," Ms Wright said.
"But those circumstances didn't define me. And so I chose my response to that by making myself a better person."
Ms Wright will reference Holocaust survivor-turned Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, alluding to choosing one's response to circumstances in life, and American poet Walter Whitman's famous verse O Me! O Life!
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.- Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl
About 1500 people are expected to flock to the UNE campus to support the 626 students receiving their testamurs during the three-day Summer Graduation ceremony.
On Friday, November 7, students from the Faculty of Medicine and Health, which includes a large cohort of graduate nurses among the 187 health professionals, will take part in the end-of-year ceremony.
And on Saturday, November 8, those who have been studying degrees in the science, agriculture business and law faculties will take to the podium for their degrees.