Kendal Sylvester

“Don’t rule anything out. If you are provided with an opportunity, give it a go because you might surprise yourself”

Many high school students are unsure what career they want. What was your experience like?

Throughout high school I was never certain of the career I wanted to pursue. I had lots of ideas, but nothing jumped out as ‘the one’. I started thinking about the life I wanted and identifying where my skills and strengths might be best suited.

Did you have a plan to help guide you through college?

Grade 11 opened up a whole new world. I had a level of independence that I had never experienced before. The responsibility to attend class, complete tasks and stay on track was on me. I no longer had my High School teachers to steer me in the right direction. Unfortunately, that level of independence resulted in me leaving Grade 12 before completion.

What happened after you left college?

I found myself a little lost. I commenced employment as a dental assistant where I was happy for many years. At the age of 24 I gave birth to my first son. I didn’t want to go back into full-time employment, so I applied to study the Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Tasmania. To my surprise I was successful in receiving an offer to study. However, history seemed to repeat itself once again when I left my degree halfway through.

Why did you choose Nursing as a career option?

During my work experience as a dental assistant, I found a passion for health and wellbeing. I was intrigued by how the body worked, and what caused it to not work when affected by illness. I also discovered a passion for helping people in their time of need, be that through comfort or simply listening to their story.

Did you consider going back to university to complete the Nursing degree?

Many years after my first attempt at Nursing I attended a University of Tasmania open day with a friend. I had no intention of applying and was simply there as a support person. After a conversation with a student ambassador my interest in Nursing had returned and I ended up applying again. As I waited for the outcome, a university staff member reached out and told me about a new Associate Degree in Applied Health and Community Support. After much discussion, I realised this course would provide me with the necessary skills to help achieve my career goal.

What was different about the Associate Degree in Applied Health and Community Support?

As I walked into the class for my very first tutorial, I had made the decision not to tell any of my family or friends what I was doing. I was certain I would once again drop out. Instead, I found a community of like-minded people and teaching staff that supported and encouraged me along the way. I flourished to the point of being asked to deliver the Valedictorian speech at our graduation.

During my study I was employed with a local radiology department, kept up with my parenting commitments and volunteered as a peer mentor. The support I received from the course staff was like nothing I had ever experienced before. These amazing people were in my corner, cheering me on every step of the way.

That’s fantastic! After this success, did you consider studying nursing again?

The power of knowledge had got me, and I was ready to learn more. I decided to apply for the Bachelor of Nursing once again, and I was successful. I am currently at the end of my second year of study with no hint of history repeating itself.

What other opportunities have arisen to help others?

During my time studying Applied Health and Community Support, I was offered a paid role as a peer mentor. That role developed into a Unit Coordination position, and I now have the pleasure of teaching the course that helped me find myself. I was recently appointed a member of the Youth Family and Community Connections (YFCC) board. There is no better feeling than being able to make a positive and lasting impact on the youth and families of Tasmania!

What advice would you give a student who is struggling with their career decisions?

Don’t rule anything out. If you are provided with an opportunity, give it a go because you might surprise yourself. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would enjoy the position I currently have. To my surprise, I love it!

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