A FATHER and daughter from the Fraser Coast have added to their special bond by graduating together from the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Despite working in different fields, Mark Lowe and his daughter Rhiannon Lowe share the same career goal – to make a difference in people’s lives.
Mark, who earned a degree in Nursing Science, is focused on caring for people with mental illness, while Rhiannon is helping shape young minds after completing a Bachelor of Primary Education.
The university shared their inspiring story recently as part of National Reconciliation Week.
The duo wore academic stoles incorporating the Aboriginal flag in recognition of their ancestry.
Mark was due to graduate in 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on last year’s ceremony.
He said being able to attend this year’s graduation at the Brolga Theatre and Convention Centre in Maryborough and receive his degree with his daughter was a proud moment.
“I thought the chance to share this experience with Rhiannon could be something really special – and it was,” Mark said.
“It was also great to celebrate with my peers. I was blown away by the whole thing to be honest.”
Rhiannon said there were many highlights from graduating with her father.
“I think the best part was having all of our family celebrating and sharing the moment together,” she said.
Mark’s specialised nursing role in the Mental Health Unit at Maryborough Hospital involves working with clients to promote psychological well-being, emotional health and physical wellbeing.
“The best part of this role is that I have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and can work to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health by helping people understand that it is an illness like any other,” he said.
Mark said a desire to fully realise his career potential motivated him to enrol in a Nursing Science degree at USC’s campus at Hervey Bay in 2017, after 17 years working as an advanced practice enrolled nurse in maternity, renal dialysis and specialist outpatient clinics in Moree and Hervey Bay.
“I was initially looking at changing jobs completely,” he said.
“However, I decided I wanted to keep going forward in the health industry and I haven’t looked back.
“Working in the mental health sector was never on my radar until a placement at the Maryborough Mental Health Unit in my third-year of study opened my eyes to what a challenging but immensely rewarding profession it could be.”
Rhiannon enrolled in a Bachelor of Primary Education at USC’s Fraser Coast the same year as her father, after completing Year 12 at Hervey Bay’s Xavier Catholic College in 2016.
Since the start of this year, she has been teaching at St Ann’s Catholic School at Redbank Plains, Brisbane.
“I’m enjoying developing relationships with the students and seeing growth and progression in their learning and social skills,” Rhiannon said.
“I have been fortunate enough to have met a lot of brilliant mentors through my studies and placements with USC,” she said.
“They have provided me with so much knowledge and insight into the career that will stay with me forever.”
Applications are open to study at USC in Semester 2.
USC will hold its interactive online Open Day on Sunday 18 July. You can register for the event, here.