Facing challenges and making changes
Victoria Vartuli had always wanted to be a teacher, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic changed her circumstances that she took the plunge and followed her passion.
Upheaval and change characterised 2020 for most us and for Victoria it was no different.
“I had a well-established career as a senior executive assistant, supporting C-suite executives,” said Victoria. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation I was employed by made changes and I took a redundancy. It was then I decided to take the plunge and follow my passion for education.
“As a mother volunteering at my children’s school, I have seen the disparity in access to quality education. I also came to appreciate the learning that happens afterwards at home. Some children may not have a caregiver to assist them with reading or homework, which impacts their ability to learn basic skills in the foundation years. This has long-term consequences.
“I am passionate about teaching children to read fluently and comprehend deeply, developing their writing skills and increasing their level of independence. If I can inspire a child to reach for their personal best, the moment they realise their own success is rewarding for me too.”
Pursuing her passion
Once she had decided to pursue teaching, Victoria still had to choose where to study. Taking the chance to access a new campus with state-of-the-art facilities, Victoria started her Bachelor of Education (Primary) at ACU’s Blacktown Campus in 2021 and, despite the pandemic still affecting us all, she hasn’t looked back.
“I originally chose another university but, while considering embarking on a career change, I sought the advice of a well-regarded teacher at my children’s school,” she explained. “They recommended I change my preference to ACU because of its great reputation in education and the fact students start practical teaching placements a lot sooner than in many other teaching degrees.
“I absolutely love studying at ACU. The university isn’t as large as some others, which enables me to have better relationships with my lecturers and tutors. I can engage in meaningful conversation with them, knowing they know me by name and I’m not a random student number.
“The tutorial classes are a great size, enabling quality learning time and collaboration among peers and the benefits of a small tutor-to-student ratio. And ACU invests heavily in resources and facilities to ensure students get a quality education and first-rate experience.”
Soaking up experiences
ACU’s Blacktown Campus, opened in 2021, serves its diverse local student body by providing quality courses and facilities as well as a range of experiences to contribute to the community. Victoria has jumped wholeheartedly into everything the campus has to offer.
“It’s ACU’s newest campus, so the investment in facilities and its social aspects have been great,” she said. “We are developing a great campus culture, albeit paused by the Semester 2 lockdown last year, but everyone is so excited to be getting back to campus and maintaining the exciting momentum we started with at the beginning of the year. The campus is in a culturally diverse part of Sydney, meaning you have an array of places and events all within walking distance to enjoy with your peers.”
Her studies have also allowed Victoria to make a difference overseas.
“Last year was the first time ACU had facilitated its community engagement program with the Solomon Islands virtually, due to lockdowns across the country and the international travel ban. A program that was normally hands on, teaching primary-aged students from Bishop Epalle Catholic School, was converted into a virtual program delivered over Semester 2 through Zoom.
“This experience was fantastic. Although the challenges of internet speed and technology were cumbersome at times, it didn’t stand in the way of seeing the excitement of Year 6 children creating a picture-book story of their own, with the help of ACU pre-service teachers. The learnings about culture, interests and the individual student relationships were wonderful.”
Victoria has also taken advantage of the Academic Skills Unit, a team of educational experts on each campus who support students transitioning to university and throughout their degree.
“The Academic Skills team have been fantastic,” she said. “They facilitated the workshops that have really enabled me to transition back to education. I had been employed in a corporate environment for many years so having access to support for writing, referencing, study and exam preparation has been enormously beneficial. The academic and support staff have always been available and knowledgeable when I’ve needed some guidance on a particular topic or clarity about anything. The support for students is amazing and valuable in so many ways.”
But she said it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
“Semester 2 was difficult. As a full-time uni student and mother of two children, I had to juggle home-schooling both my sons, who are in Year 1 and Year 2, during the day and then leave my own studies until the evening. The days were long and tiresome – and the nights were exhausting. Trying to juggle my children’s home-schooling timetables with that of my own was a mammoth task, but with organisation, determination, persistence and definitely resilience, we all made it to the other side successfully.”
And her advice for starting uni later in life?
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and meet new people. The diversity of students from different backgrounds is amazing and everyone is there for the same reason: to get an education and have some fun along the way.”
Are you ready for an experience like Victoria’s? Explore your options at ACU.