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Building a new life


As a competitive body builder, Sarah Foyster is no stranger to hard work. But that didn’t stop this 30-something mum of three from feeling nervous at the thought of returning to study. We spoke to Sarah about pursuing your goals.

It isn’t always easy to chase your dreams. When you’re settled into a lifestyle – kids, job, commitments – embracing change can be a scary prospect. But while it may be daunting to embark on a new career, it’s rarely regretted.

“Every time I walk through the gate at ACU, I know I made the right choice,” said Sarah, who is studying a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary) at the Ballarat Campus.

“Before I came to ACU, I was employed as a workplace trainer and assessor, but I’d always dreamt about working with kids. I knew when I began my studies that I’d be almost double the age of most of the other students and I didn’t know if everyone would accept me. But my fears were unfounded – I was treated the same as everybody else.”

Making it work

Sarah is a competitive body builder – a hobby that requires discipline and time. She’s also a mother, employee, and the first to admit she can’t juggle her commitments without help. When it came to her degree, she made a point of getting all the on-campus assistance she could find.

“When I first started, I didn’t realise the Academic Skills Unit was even a thing. I’ve since had one-on-one sessions with them and got some really helpful feedback as I had to learn all new skills, like essay writing and referencing – both a whole new world for me.”

Sarah also receives ongoing yearly support thanks to a Sisters of Mercy Scholarship.

“I was so emotional when I found out I’d won. I was dancing around the kitchen and crying at the same time. My daughter kept asking me what was wrong. I just thought, ‘Yes! I’ve got it!’

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“I’ve been able to use money from the scholarship to pay for things like babysitters and childcare if I have a class outside school hours. It’s made such a difference to my family.”

Body of work

When Sarah isn’t busy with her studies and her family, she’s hitting the gym – hard.

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“I’ve always loved exercise. When my personal trainer did a body building competition I thought, ‘If they’ve done one, why can’t I?’ I was 35 when I entered my first competition. Training to compete is so hard; you have to be 100 per cent committed. Though I look back now and wonder how I managed to fit it in,” she said. “You have to be really mentally focused.”

Sarah isn’t sure when her next body building competition will be as for now her studies are her priority. “I’m just a normal mum who likes the gym and dreams of being a teacher one day. That’s all I want.”

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Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2019 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G