The Month of June

It is June, meaning it is almost halfway through the year. This is yet another month, as well as a midway point, to reflect on the first six months of 2021. I’m one of those people that look at big events, such as the new year or a birthday, as a pitstop to re-gather myself and refocus on what is important. Like Matthew McConaughey’s focus in his book ‘Greenlights’, it’s about getting relative.

I know that resolutions and reinventions can be short-lived, and working them into a lifestyle is more suitable. A pitstop in June will not necessarily better equip me for July. However, two major developments in my life are falling into June. I’m graduating, and I’m also not graduating. I’ve become free from my studies in two distinct ways. I’ve delivered, and I’ve disconnected. Let me explain.

I Am Graduating From University

close up photo of diploma
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First, I completed my undergraduate degree in Sport & Exercise Management last year. However, the big virus postponed proper graduation. My final semester was done solely online from home, diminishing the feeling of being a studious and social university student. Before the pandemic, I’d be making my way to school. During the pandemic, I was making my way from bed to bedroom desk, something I already did on my non-uni days. It made each day feel more alike.

Taking a class from home wasn’t totally bad, though. Dissolving the 1-hour commute each way to university was a highlight. On days I felt under the weather, I remained motivated and equipped to attend Zoom classes because I could use that hour to rest or do homework in the comfort of home. In the past, missing a train meant missing class. Now, online live classes mean anyone from anywhere can participate. On the flip side, covid has negatively impacted the educational system and overall experience. More on that later.

Working from home

No matter how the last semester and last year went, I’ll get my more exciting graduation this year. My university is allowing photos and celebrations on campus, in allotted times per faculty groups to maintain distancing and flow. This is exciting because online final exams and final classes were totally anti-climactic. No excitement, no camaraderie with other finishing students, and a lack of celebrations within families. It was a unique experience. Nonetheless, it was worth it. I’m fortunate to be able to be graduating from university one year later.

Also, I Am Not Graduating From University

The second announcement is that I have withdrawn from my Master of Public Health course, which I began at the start of this year. In this instance, I will not be graduating from university. It’s not easy when studying forms a big part of your identity, but sometimes it also takes trying something to realise it’s not right for you. In this case, the Public Health course not only told me it’s not exactly what I’m into as a career, but also that my undergraduate degree is what I truly like (why I didn’t immediately pursue a sports management might need its own blog post).

Pondering post graduating university
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It’s great to be passionate about multiple things, and narrowing that down can be difficult. Sport Management felt a bit like a lost cause when I didn’t know where to go afterwards. However, the Public Health course lets me know I was on the right track. It’s about identifying what passions or interests you want to make a career out of, and what you can keep as simply an interest or hobby. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a career in a different interest down the track, but it’s a good starting point to know what immediate steps to take now.

Why?

In a nutshell, my interests in non-communicable disease, sustainability and health all fit under public health. The idea was exciting, but the reality of studying it was less so. Once the planetary health and epidemiology subjects were over, the remaining 80% that I began doing, were not relevant. I did a lot of research last year looking into what I wanted to study. The Master of Public Health seemed perfect. However, sometimes you just don’t know until you try. Hindsight lends a helping hand.

Studying from home before graduating university - Fit by Kat

An additional reason to withdraw, was the 100% online learning and the drawbacks that come with it. I know I mentioned some benefits of online study while I finished my undergraduate degree, but that made up one-fifth of my whole undergraduate course. In my Master degree, I originally enrolled for the campus course, but like many courses and funding cuts, it was completely culled. The online version (a totally different platform), was a heavily tweaked course. What had initially piqued my interest in the on-campus course was not available in the online program that I was transferred into.

To better understand the impacts of Covid on the educational system and online learning in Australia, this in-depth article discusses the interesting consequences that have been occurring.

Final Thoughts

Like anything, I’m not expecting everything to be smooth sailing. I won’t obtain a dream job overnight, and that’s ok. I’m looking forward to the process with fresh eyes and renewed passion. I’ve got some volunteer experience lined up to get event-day experience, something that my more successful uni acquaintances have on their resumes. Withdrawing from public health frees up time to focus my attention back on sports-related interests and career outcomes. It wasn’t an easy decision but I know it is for the best, and thankful for what the experience taught me about myself.

people toasting wine glasses
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