Twenty years ago, the idea that you could become a qualified schoolteacher without leaving Griffith – a town with no university – might have seemed far-fetched.
But it’s set to become a reality for Giorgia Ceccato, who started a primary education degree with the University of New England this year and will graduate by 2026.
So, how can you become qualified for such a hands-on profession while studying remotely? And how is Giorgia getting through her degree so quickly?
Region caught up with the 20-year-old Marian Catholic College graduate to find out.
Why have you decided to get a teaching degree remotely from Griffith?
I initially did go away to study business at the University of Wollongong. I did it for two months and I didn’t love it. I was missing my family in Griffith.
When I returned home, I did some volunteering out at Yenda Public School. Then I started doing it on a paid basis as a casual, which I found really rewarding. I decided I wanted to become a teacher, so I enrolled in a degree at the University of New England.
All my cousins are also studying or have studied teaching remotely and love it. There are five girls in our family and four of them are doing or have done teaching.
Teaching seems like such an interactive profession. How can you get qualified to be a teacher studying remotely?
I’m getting a lot of practical experience as I’m working as a teacher’s aide at Binya Public School, which only has 20 students. I take the kids for reading and do one-on-one lessons; sometimes I take classes for Kindergarten to Year 2 so I get direct teaching experience.
For university, everything is recorded – lectures and tutorials. It’s targeted towards parents who have children and work; you have scheduled zooms you can join, but if you are working, it’s recorded and you can watch it later. There’s all the content online and you do it at your own pace.
My mum also did it remotely; she always said that she liked it because she had kids, but I don’t have any kids and it also works for me.
But don’t you miss all the fun of campus life in Wollongong?
Not really, I can still socialise with my friends here, even though it’s a bit different. I don’t feel like I’m missing out, but I do miss the beach sometimes.
Doing this degree, I can still move away from Griffith if I want to, all I need is a laptop.
Where do you study when you’re in Griffith?
I come to the Country Universities Centre [remote learning facility] every morning; it makes it much easier. Everyone who comes here is also studying, so it motivates me. If I stayed at home, I’d get distracted by the things around me.
You said you started studying this year but will graduate by 2026. How is that possible? Isn’t teaching a four-year degree?
At the University of New England, I can do three semesters annually, which means I can do an extra four subjects a year.
The third semester is over the summer. I only get from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day off, then I’m straight back on it. I get to do a whole semester while everyone else is on holiday.
You can start teaching three-quarters of your way into your degree, so I can be teaching by 2025. My cousins study full-time and already have their own classes as well.
Any advice for students finishing Year 12 this year and undecided about what to do in 2024?
Try different things and think about all the different options. I didn’t mind doing all sorts of things to discover what was best for me. I also did a gap year working as an electorate officer and for Griffith Leagues Club.
Also, make sure you do what you really like, rather than what others want you to do.
Anyone interested in studying a degree remotely from Griffith or Leeton can get in touch with the Country Universities Centre Western Riverina.