News & Stories

Leap of faith leads to fulfilling career change

Bonita Raimondo has overcome self-doubt in her ability to succeed and a series of life challenges to be undertaking the final year of a Bachelor of Social Work with Honours.

Bonita Raimondo has overcome self-doubt in her ability to succeed and a series of life challenges to be undertaking the final year of a Bachelor of Social Work with Honours.

Proudly from Burnie, Boni had always felt university was out of her reach, and it wasn’t until later in life, following an eleven-year career, that she took a leap of faith to pursue it.

“I came from a low-income family that did it pretty tough at times, and I’d left school after finishing Year 10,” Boni said.

“Maybe at the time I really represented a lot of what was going on in Burnie because I didn't have a solid education background. I didn’t have a licence and I was really limited in what I could do and what I thought I could do.

“So at 21, I was excited to be offered an opportunity to work in a laboratory. I went from washing beakers to eventually becoming a Metallurgical Technician, a physically demanding job researching mineral processing technology and lifting a lot of dirt and big equipment.

“I spent ten years enjoying the challenge of climbing the ladder. By the time I came up to long service leave, I’d had my daughter and was in the most senior position offered in the lab without having a university degree in chemistry.

“The career was great, but at the same time, my choice had never been there. I didn’t choose to do it, I had to do it to survive. That’s when I realised it wasn't giving me any spark whatsoever, so I visited the Cradle Coast campus and talked to a career adviser.”

It took courage for Boni to quit a full-time job with a stable income in search of that spark, initially commencing study in health and community care.

“I was really interested in engagement and uplifting the community here, but I did a couple of units and realised I didn’t want to do health. So I went back into the uni, had a chat, and that’s when I landed on social work as it reaches into a lot of my passion areas.”

In the years prior, Boni had been seizing opportunities that helped her discover and develop new interests and skills which influenced this next chapter.

“I participated in RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards), something I never thought I would do in a million years, as it was a chance to gain community engagement skills I was never going to get working in a lab.

“Because of my background, I thought ‘I don’t fit in here,’ but I did it, even though I was terrified. I was invited back as a facilitator over the next couple of years and loved it.

"I also volunteered with Red Cross as a community visitor for isolated elderly people. Whenever I did the volunteering, I would feel that spark of joy I’d never felt in my lab career. I suppose I was testing the waters and discovering I really enjoyed being with the community without knowing I would eventually become a social worker.”

Moving away to study wasn’t an option, but with social work offered at the Cradle Coast campus, Boni was able to embark on her university journey without having to leave.

“I don’t think I would have pursued university if the course and campus had not been here. The leap of faith of doing study was big enough, let alone moving away,” Boni said.

“My daughter was established so I didn’t want to move her, and I felt responsible for others living here.

“I was also massively influenced by working in this community. This is in my bones, all my generations have lived here, and I didn’t feel the need to leave. I’d made the decision to stay and raise my family here, and I wanted to be part of making this community a thriving healthy place.”

Boni is already contributing by putting what she has learnt into practise after a volunteer placement opportunity led to casual work.

“I’m a youth worker at SevenUp in Wynyard which is an after school drop-in centre for grades seven and up run by Rural Health. I’m also hanging around in my spare time gaining experience from the people working there who have been incredibly generous with their time in helping me see what they do.”

Employment opportunities have also come Boni’s way just by being on campus. She’s juggling a Library Assistant role part-time too.

“I think that’s the beautiful thing about a small campus, you get to know people and I heard about a job coming up and secretly I had always wanted to work in a library.”

In sharing her experience, Boni hopes to reassure others who might be considering taking a step into the unknown.

“It’s just about finding the guts to say oh yes, even though I don’t feel like I fit or belong, I’ll give it a go and see what happens, and knowing that it’s okay to fail along the way because that’s all part of it.

“My experience has been that if one way is not working, there is somebody here on campus to help you to find another way towards what you’re trying to achieve. The people here really want to see us succeed.

“I want to see this place do the best it possibly can and the only way to see that happen is by joining people and helping move things in that direction. Having the new campus at West Park, and offering courses like social work, is one of many steps in positively changing this region.”

Boni has also been awarded this year’s Anglicare Scholarship in Social Work worth $5000.