University of Southern Queensland nursing lecturer Barbara Black has taken great pride in watching her students walk across the stage at graduation over the years.
But nothing has made her prouder than seeing one particular student graduate with a Bachelor of Nursing at Toowoomba’s Empire Theatre yesterday (June 27).
That’s because Elizabeth isn’t just any student; she’s her daughter.
Barbara had a front-row seat to Elizabeth’s graduation experience as part of the ceremony’s academic procession.
Every parent wants to be involved in their child’s education – and that was certainly the case for Barbara, who taught Elizabeth at not one, but three different educational institutes.
The first time was at the Bremer Institute of TAFE, where Elizabeth completed a Diploma of Nursing in 2010. Four years later, she started a Bachelor of Nursing at Charles Darwin University and later switched to the University of Southern Queensland to complete her degree.
“I knew what I was signing up for,” Elizabeth said when asked what it was like to have her mother as a lecturer.
“The dodgy jokes and sayings like ‘back when I was nursing baby Jesus’. She certainly likes to have a bit of fun.
“We tried not to make it obvious that we were related, but a couple of times, the banter between us in the classroom gave it away.”
This evening, Elizabeth will be doing little to hide their relationship when she sees her mother graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy in the final ceremony of the week.
Barbara said keeping her eyes on the doctorate was the ultimate driving force.
“My graduation day will be the ultimate proof that ‘I can do it’,” she said.
“There were many times when the prospect of me being a doctor seemed ridiculous.
“Traversing through a PhD, working full time, and prioritising work and life balance over four years is not for the weak-hearted.
“There’s no way I could have made it through these years if it wasn’t for the never-ending encouragement and loving support of my husband William, my family and my friends.”
The Ipswich mother-daughter duo worked hard at their studies for years, but Barbara insisted it was just a coincidence they were both graduating in the same week.
“It certainly wasn’t planned that we graduate at the same time,” she said.
“We both just got on with the study at our own pace.
“Graduations are equally special on an individual level, but to be doing it together is a bonus.
“Elizabeth faced many hurdles throughout her degree, but her sheer determination to complete the program was outstanding. I’m extremely proud of her.”
Elizabeth’s path to becoming a registered nurse was paved by her mother, who has spent more than 40 years in the profession.
Barbara worked in various settings, including acute care, medical and surgical care and perioperative units, before turning her attention to teaching in 2006.
She added research to her mix in recent years, focusing on nursing history, nursing education and chronic conditions, and nursing student engagement and retention.
Elizabeth landed her first job in 2010 as an endorsed enrolled nurse in an aged care facility and has spent the past 12 years working as a nurse in Indigenous health.
Seven years ago, the mother-of-two was appointed manager of the Coordination Supplementary Services Program – a Department of Health-funded program designed to improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic disease.
Elizabeth credits her mother for setting an example of what it takes to be a successful student and successful in life.
“I still remember when I was a child watching mum do her degree and always admired how determined she was to succeed. I even went along to some of her lectures,” she said.
“She’s my biggest inspiration and a significant influence on me, along with one of my aunties who is also a registered nurse.
“They’ve both had such different journeys in their careers, and my career is also different from theirs.
“I’m incredibly grateful to have parents and family that have only ever supported me and showed me that you can have a family and a career that you enjoy.”
Barbara Black (right) supporting her daughter Elizabeth Black who graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing at the Empire Theatre yesterday. The roles will be reversed when Barbara graduates with a Doctor of Philosophy this evening.