Skip to content

Scholarship supports a career in caring

It was an epiphany in her late 20s that drove Cecilia Archer to give up her day job in real estate and enrol at the University of Tasmania.

“I want to work in an industry where I am putting people, not money, at the centre of everything I do,” she said.

Growing up on a farm in Cressy, Cecilia always dreamt of becoming a vet. Her father had plans for her to take over the family farm when the time was right.

After completing her high school studies in Launceston and Geelong, she worked as a jillaroo in the Northern Territory, before studying farm management and returning to work on the family farm.

“The timing wasn’t right, and I struggled to get work back in Tasmania, so I ended up getting a job in real estate,” she said.

She worked her way up from an entry level administrative role to business manager at a prominent agency.

After five years Cecilia became disillusioned with the industry and decided to give up her full-time wage and return to study Nursing.

“The more time I spent in the industry, the more I realised that I wanted to do something that put people first, so I enrolled as a mature age student.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, I was running a household and it was a big sacrifice to go back to being a full-time student, it took a lot of dedication and hard work.”

After first year in Hobart she took a year off to work through some personal issues, but soon returned to her studies in Launceston.

The return to study was made easier thanks to the Adrian Geard Memorial Scholarship in Nursing, which is funded by the Lions Club of Westbury.

Not only did Cecilia receive financial support with her studies, she was also invited to give a presentation at a Lions club meeting to share her experience as a student nurse, an experience she found extremely rewarding.

Phil Steers, the club’s president, said the club was proud to provide the annual scholarship to a student from the Westbury district.

“This ongoing commitment supports students who are working in an important field and devoting their career to serving the community, which ties back to the purpose of Lions,” he said.

Cecilia’s studies were soon back on track, until COVID-19 hit in early 2020.

Her final year placement was at the Mersey Community Hospital, but it was cut short during the North West outbreak.

Then the state borders closed and her placement at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney was cancelled.

Fortunately, the University found her another placement at St Helens District Hospital, providing her with incredible work experience.

“It was a really difficult year studying remotely, but in many ways, I was lucky that my placements went ahead,” she said.

Cecilia was delighted to discover that University of Tasmania graduation summer graduation would proceed.

“After a year when we all felt robbed of our emotions, I was so happy to know that we would be able to graduate and celebrate.”

Cecilia, now 30, has another reason to celebrate, she has secured two graduate positions at the Launceston General Hospital (LGH) in orthopedics and coronary care.

More than 5,000 scholars are expected to graduate in modified COVID-safe events in December 2020 in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart.

Are you a University of Tasmania scholarship student with a story to share? We'd love to hear from you, please email:

Find out how you can support students here.

Published on: 17 Dec 2020 7:31pm