“All my report cards would read, 'Tammy would do better if she paid attention,' ” laughed Tammy.
“But I wasn’t anchored and didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
After being described as a 'clever kid' in her early schooling years, that version of herself quickly disappeared during high school as Tammy's grades dropped drastically.
“I only enjoyed art in high school, so after graduating I applied to study a Bachelor of Fine Arts at university. Even though I was nervous that I wouldn’t be good enough, I was elated when I was accepted,” said Tammy.
Only it wasn’t meant to be. An issue with her application meant she wasn’t technically enrolled, and when she was asked if she wanted to change her enrolment status, she said no.
“I kept telling myself it was because I just wasn’t passionate or that I wouldn’t get a job from studying art. But truth be told, I was heartbroken and only had myself to blame.”
Fast forward three years and Tammy began studying for a career in child care and saw her confidence grow and her self image start to change.
“The feedback I received from my teachers felt so overwhelmingly positive that it got me out of my slump. I managed to finish the certificate course two months early and got a job pretty much straight away,” explained Tammy.
Tammy’s qualifications and confidence saw her excel as a child care practitioner, and she thrived professionally, saved money and felt her confidence and pride in her abilities grow in the process.
“After three years of working and saving, I decided to reward myself with the gift of education and finally start my visual arts career by studying a Certificate III in Visual Arts (CUA31115) at TAFE Queensland’s Bracken Ridge campus.
“At the end of my course, my teacher encouraged me to keep studying and said that I’d enjoy enhancing my skills at university. Once again I was terrified because I thought it was fine in theory, but what if I couldn’t do it? But then, what if I could?”
After a gap year in Japan teaching English and art, where her students’ drawing skills improved immensely, Tammy returned to Australia and enrolled to study a Diploma of Visual Arts (CUA51115) at TAFE Queensland before enrolling in university.
“University was a different beast, and I needed a lot of help from the student academic mentors who offered important insight and advice about assessments. I saw a mentor each week and watched my grades improve dramatically.”
By the end of university, Tammy had achieved more than she ever thought possible and didn’t want it to end. Motivated and determined, she decided to continue her education journey and complete the Honours program.
“I worked harder than before, and it was pushing me to my limits, but I was determined to do well. I met with my supervising lecturer every two weeks, in person and online. All that hard work paid off and I achieved first-class honours, graduating with a grade point average of 7 — the highest grade you can get,” explained Tammy.
Tammy has continued riding her newfound wave of confidence that her education gave her and used the energy to secure a job as Duty Manager with the Museum of Brisbane, which she describes as incredible.
“If someone told me that saying no on the phone all those years ago would lead to this success, I’d have called them crazy! But that’s the best part — I started small, and the years between every step only added to my resilience and determination.”
From low confidence, a lack of belief in herself, and unemployment to now living her passion and working in the industry of her dreams, Tammy is proud that she built her career around education.
“Each journey is different and made up of so many small moments in time; each decision leads to a different path of possibilities.”
“If I can do it, anyone can! So take the first step and know that every path is different and know that if you keep working at it, you will get to where you want to be.”