Personalise my view
Personalise my view

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How I found my groove

Lance Halliday, Certificate IV in Adult Tertiary Preparation (10765NAT) graduate

It has not been an easy road for me. From struggling to complete high school, being involved in a horrific accident, and learning to walk again, to now succeeding in life.

Undertaking an adult tertiary preparation course at TAFE Queensland is hands down the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

In fact, it’s changed the course of my life and showed me that I do have the brains to do what I wanted to do - despite my ADHD and my struggles with school as a kid.

I’m not ashamed to say I never ever thought I would be finishing my first semester of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Queensland, and I want others to know there are lots of pathways and people to get you – or anyone – where they want to be. The first step is to simply try.

I’ve lived in Logan since I was 10 years old. I still live here today, and I love the area and the people.

At the age of six I was diagnosed with ADHD and it’s something that still affects me as an adult, although to a much lesser degree than when I was a child.

My ADHD plagued me during my school years, particularly because if I don’t find something completely interesting or engrossing then I can’t concentrate and am easily distracted. It made learning difficult for me and I took on the role of class clown throughout my school years.

In Year 9 I was expelled from my high school but continued my education at another school, however it was clear by the start of Year 12 that I wasn’t going to do well, or probably even pass – I knew I’d be happier anywhere but school.

When I left school, I moved from job to job doing casual labouring for a few years and at the time I thought it was great. I was happy to be out working and earning money rather than being forced to sit in the classroom.

At 22 I became a dad for the first time and by 26, my wife and I had three young children. Let me tell you something, the reality of the costs involved in raising three children, running a house, cars and paying endless bills, pulled me up pretty quickly.

I realised that a casual job with no security and no future wasn’t going to allow me to raise my family in the way I had hoped.

My life-long interest in cars, saw me sign up to do my mechanics apprenticeship. The job security was great, I loved the work and I was happy. The money wasn’t fantastic, but I felt more secure knowing I had a trade and a qualification under my belt.

In June 2016 I was involved in a car accident and seriously injured my back. I ended up in bed for six months and had to learn to walk all over again.

It was clear that my days bent over car bonnets were over. I had to think about a new way to support my family… and fast!

I took my interest in cars and registered myself a business, doing auto-electric work from home. It was great because I could sit while working, I enjoyed it and most importantly it got me moving and motivated again.

I became fascinated by how all electrics worked and started pulling apart computers to see how they worked as well.

Once again, this job wasn’t making me a great deal of money, but it sparked the idea of me pursuing a new career in the electrical field. For the first time I started to entertain the idea of going to university.

My biggest worry was that I’d finally found something that really interested and excited me, but I wondered if I had the brains to actually do it.

I became aware of TAFE Queensland’s adult tertiary preparation course and I knew that was what I needed to do to move forward.

I was shocked at how far behind I was when I started the course. In the early stages we were working at a Year 10 level in Maths, but I only had a Year 8 knowledge at best. I had an enormous amount of catching up to do and that meant a lot of additional study on my part.

The greatest thing that helped me to move through those early challenges were my TAFE Queensland teachers. It was clear, these teachers weren’t there for just a job. They genuinely want their students to succeed and if I ever needed help, even on a lunch break, it was never too much trouble. I can’t explain just how big of a difference that support and encouragement made to me and to my confidence.

I knuckled down, got up to speed, got through the course in six months, and learnt some great skills while I was there – particularly how to utilise every single resource that is available to help me.

I finished with TAFE Queensland in November 2018 and applied to do a Bachelor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at either UQ, QUT or Griffith. All I had to do was wait for January 15 to roll around, which is the date when the university offers come out.

You can imagine my shock when I checked my emails on 2 January and found a formal offer from my top preference, the University of Queensland.

It was a thrilling moment and one my wife and I will never forget. Picture me in a shopping centre carpark yahooing and shouting, "Yes!" over and over!

I am about to finish the first semester of my first year at university. I’m not ashamed to say that I never thought I’d find myself in this position. If I’m honest, it has been really hard work. I’m in class around 30 hours a week and am required to do about the same amount of work at home either studying or doing assignments.

At times it has been overwhelming, just like it was at TAFE Queensland. But what keeps me going is those little wins – finally understanding something or looking back at all I’ve learnt in only a few months.

I know now that the huge satisfaction I feel from these achievements completely outweighs the challenges of getting there.