A Mount Gambier mature-aged student has not only completed a degree and obtained a job in her local community; she has also won an award from a professional body.
Lisa Fry completed her Bachelor of Social Work at the end of last year and at the graduation event last month, she was one of two recipients of the Australian Association of Social Workers Final Year Outstanding Practice Award.
“Winning this award is a wonderful personal achievement and it is a privilege to be recognised,” Fry says.
The award recognised Fry’s outstanding work during her final year placement in regards to identifying and discussing an ethical dilemma that arose during her placement.
“I was very lucky to have the ability to study in the town where I was born, where my family live, and where I have raised my family,” Fry says.
“Upon completing my degree I am grateful that I now have the opportunity to give back to my community.”
Lisa is now working as a therapeutic support worker at ac.care.
For the previous 23 years, she has run all the administrative aspects of her family business and raised three children.
When her children were at the age where they were leaving home one-by-one, she decided to do something for herself and that would “hopefully lead to making a difference in other people’s lives”.
“I had never completed school and it had been years since I had studied,” Fry says.
“I jumped at the opportunity to undertake Foundation Studies at UniSA because it provided me with an alternative pathway to entering my chosen program and was an excellent learning curb before undertaking my degree.
“I have recommended the Foundation Studies course to numerous people around my age who are considering engaging in study, as well as to young people who have not had the requirements to enter university.
“I chose to go on to undertake the social work degree as I believe the social work program prepares you for a professional practice that has a great range of employment opportunities.
“In addition, the social work values of respect for persons, social justice and professional integrity are values that are equivalent to my values plus they are integral to providing support, reducing barriers, plus expanding choice and potential for those in need.”
UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd, met Fry at her graduation event and was impressed with her handling of a case during her final year placement, as well as her tenacity to return to university as a mature-aged student.
“To return to study as a mature-aged student can be a daunting and challenging prospect,” Prof Lloyd says.
“I was inspired to hear about Lisa’s story – a path that saw her raising a family, taking on Foundation Studies and then completing her social work degree and the outstanding integrity and professionalism shown in her final placement.
“Lisa is a great example of what our Foundation Studies program can help non-school leavers achieve.”
The Australian Association of Social Workers also presented the outstanding practice award to Cathy Haakmeester, Master of Social Work, from the Magill campus.