Woman’s courageous return to study after husband’s death
SEVEN years ago tragedy struck Kristie Dillon's family when her husband committed suicide but now the inspirational woman has rediscovered her passion and is pursuing a PhD.
While the journey back to education after her husband's passing was not an easy one, Ms Dillon said she wanted to inspire her young children to reach their goals.
"My studies have taught me that any obstacle can be overcome. No matter what life throws at you, if you are willing to put in the work then you can be whatever you want to be," Ms Dillon said.
"In 2013 my husband committed suicide just as I was about to complete my Honours Research Degree. It was the biggest challenge of my life.
"It took few years to get back on my study path, but I felt as a woman and a mother that I should set an example for my children, to always encourage them to reach higher."
Despite the adversity Ms Dillon faced, her passion for marine conservation and dedication to education was unwavering.
Now the mum of three has started her Doctor of Philosophy at CQUniversity Bundaberg with a focus on the restoration of Zostera muelleri, a seagrass native to the Queensland region.
"Marine based science has always been my passion since I was a child and as an Indigenous woman this field of research holds such cultural significance," Ms Dillon said.
"I want to play a part in helping to conserve and restore our deteriorating lands and oceans.
"Most people don't realise that seagrass meadows, including Zostera muelleri, are vital to our coastal ecosystems.
"They support a range of marine species, filter out fine sediment and nutrients and offset our carbon footprint."
Ms Dillon said without her kids unconditional support juggling full-time work, study and her family would be so much harder.
"For any mothers out there looking at going back to uni give it a go, you will surprise yourself," she said.
"It can be very rewarding, and you are never too old to do something you love."
Deputy vice president Indigenous engagement Professor Adrian Miller praised Ms Dillon for being an outstanding role model on many levels.
"Not only has Kristie has demonstrated the highest level of resilience but has continued to be a role model for other Indigenous people seeking a career in Marine science or considering postgraduate study," Prof Miller said.
If you are an Indigenous student looking to undertake postgraduate studies email OIE@cqu.edu.au.
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