Kate Hansen has been at UOW College longer than most.
In fact, it was the College that inspired Kate to pursue a dream of a tertiary education, and she has gone full circle from student to teacher since she joined the staff at UOW College in 1998.
“When I left school in 1996, I didn’t get the marks I needed to get into uni. Instead, I got a clerical traineeship for a government agency in Sydney. Then a year later I got a job in administration and reception at UOW College,” she said.
“I loved being on campus, with students from all over the world and the environment of learning. My boss at the time saw that I did have that desire to learn and supported me to do some Foundation Studies subjects which then enabled me to access higher education at the University of Wollongong.”
Kate said that although she was capable at school, in hindsight she can see that there were things going on in her life that impacted her performance and results.
And it is that experience that she said has helped her connect with many of the students whom she now works with at UOW College.
“Back then I didn’t know there was another avenue to university, and I felt bad about how I did in the HSC. It was great to have my horizons expanded when I was at the College,” she said.
After working on staff in her administration role, Kate went on to graduate from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in French and English Literature.
She was then employed by the University in its study abroad and exchange program as an exchange advisor before deciding to take the leap herself and try her own luck at studying overseas.
“I went to study in Mexico City and enrolled in a post-graduate Diploma of Arts at UOW,” she said.
“I had an amazing experience being an international student myself where I didn’t speak the language and I had to learn to navigate all that, and I have also been able to bring those experiences back to my work now at the College in how I relate to students.”
Kate came back to work as a teacher of language and academic literacy at the College in 2014.
“I had that feeling that I was back where I belonged. I’m now teaching in the classrooms that I sat in as a student,” she said.
“I see myself in my students now and I can relate to both the domestic and the international students because I have done what they are doing.
“Like me, they may have finished their HSC but didn’t too well or they’re coming back to study after having kids. I try to impress upon my students at the beginning of their programs that the results we get at school are often not a reflection of our ability but what has been going on in our lives.
“I believe it is so important for students to know there is another way to access higher education – that their HSC results don’t define them. Many people come to the College not feeling great about themselves, and it’s great to give back to people the way others did for me at the start of my journey.
“I tell my students that the things I learned at the College supported me to be successful at university.
“I believe education is something that can empower people to change their lives. It opens up possibilities, and I feel passionate about improving access to higher education and being part of that journey for people.”
UOW College Australia