Kirsten Bacon has two passions. One is pastisserie, and the other is helping students learn.

“I came to University as a non-school leaver. When I left school I went into a pastry chef apprenticeship. I had always wanted to be a teacher as well, but that didn’t happen, just because of the way things were presented to me at the time.”

After working in a variety of jobs in the cooking industry, Kirsten found teaching others was what she really loved.

Her enthusiasm for helping others through teaching has seen her teach hospitality and cooking skills to students from a broad range of backgrounds. She has taught in third world countries, taught apprentices, the long-term unemployed, and prison inmates.

The Bachelor of Education (Applied Learning) online was the perfect degree for Kirsten to supplement her knowledge about teaching.

I’m a real fan of the Applied Learning degree because it gave me skills that are perhaps more applicable to the new education market for young people, and also teaching older people who are wanting to change careers.

“For me as a teacher the degree offered a new concept in learning and how students learn; it was quite different to other mainstream education degrees.

“My focus is on vocational training and young people, that’s why I found it to be a degree that was really perfect for me. 

When I was at Uni, everyone I had was incredibly supportive. The course co-ordinator was bloody fantastic. Being a mum with two kids, and at the time going through a very difficult break up, I didn’t think I’d make it to be honest, but they were incredible. I wouldn’t have made it without the support of the staff.

“I thought studying online was fantastic. I felt it was really great, particularly for parents working full time.

“I was involved in a lot of online chats and study groups. I found it really, really good. It’s like anything, you get out of it what you put into it.”

Now Kirsten is teaching hospitality to college students, and passing on her passion for applied learning.

“I’ve got my students running a coffee shop for the first time ever and it’s so exciting to see them- they’re loving it. It’s really applied learning in practice." 

This is probably my dream job working here at the college, for sure. My motto is to help young people find what it is that floats their boat as such, or what drives them. If I can do anything to help them do that, that’s my dream. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.

Inspired by their mum, Kirsten’s kids are already thinking about their future study at University.

“They’re amazing kids. They get it. They were always very supportive of my studying. My daughter is considering studying midwifery eventually, and my son will go to the Conservatorium because he’s a musician."

My message would be don’t ever think you can’t go to University. I think a lot of women that have had children young think, ‘I can’t go to University, that’s for brainy people. Well it’s a new world out there and I say to my students, ‘don’t ever think that’s not an option.’ Because there are so many different things on offer.

“I always say to my students and my kids, don’t ever give up on anything, if this is what you want to do, follow that journey. Don’t ever think you can’t go to University."

And Kirsten is still following her own advice.

“I’m looking to come back in mid-semester to do the dementia course.”