Challenging pathway - great rewards 

Tracy Sariago with Shailee, four, and Seth, two

If anyone had told local Darwin girl, Tracy Sariago, ten years ago, that she could tackle raising two small children, working full time and taking the big step into tertiary education, she’d probably have said they were mad.

But thanks to a flexible employer, an easily accessible campus just a short distance from home, and the support of some role models, she’s on the way.

Tracy, pictured with her two children, Shailee, four, and Seth, two, is one of the first successful group of students taking advantage of the supported pathways options offered by Charles Darwin University.

The pathways are designed to help people not only tackle university study, but do it gradually on their own terms, starting from whatever level they’ve achieved already and getting credit for every step along the way.

“I didn’t think I could cope. But I was encouraged by my mother; I decided to trust her wisdom when she told me to have belief in myself and just have a go.

“The Casuarina Campus is close to home and it’s a friendly place, not somewhere that’s so big you get lost and feel overwhelmed,” Tracy said.

Tracy says the opportunity for her to study came about through the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment, as part of the NTPS Indigenous Employment Strategy. She completed her Certificate III Tourism (Meetings) in 1999, and graduated in May in a Diploma of Business (Front-line Management) course.

Tracy is now enrolled in CDU’s first ever Bachelor of Business (Intensive Program for Indigenous Students), which begins this term.

The pathways program has been ideal for her because she has been able to balance the sometimes conflicting needs of work, children and study by taking things at her own pace.

“I really liked the fact that the first lot of study I did could count towards the next step, so nothing was wasted. And if I have to take a semester off because things are too hectic, I can do that.

“It has helped to have a really supportive employer and get a bit of study leave – but in the long run I know they’ll benefit, because who wouldn’t be loyal to a place like that, and I’m growing in value as an employee, too”.

And tips to other potential students: “Have confidence in yourself – take the step and make it happen for you.”