Kathleen Maher returned a favour last Saturday morning when she went in to work instead of a Griffith University graduation ceremony in Brisbane CBD.
“They have been very accommodating since I went back to university,” the 28-year-old Brisbane resident says of her employers at the 1st Choice Liquor outlet in Toowong. “It’s a busy time of the year and I’m more than happy to be there to help. I’ve worked with them since I was 18 and they have always helped and accommodated me.”
That help and support, which has also come from her family and Griffith University, has seen a determined Kathleen through two degrees at Griffith University and the birth of her son Jaeden.
Kathleen’s classmates formally graduated with a Master of Marketing from Griffith Business School at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, where AEG Ogden CEO Harvey Lister, addressed the cohort.
Kathleen was conferred with her first degree, a Bachelor of Business, in 2012, an occasion she savoured with family and friends who travelled from Magnetic Island and Mackay to be with her on her big day. Two years later, the memories still strong and positive, the single mum is content this time to relish the opportunities a postgraduate degree now presents her.
“I’ve always known I’d like to move overseas at some stage and work in marketing, and to be competitive in a global market, it’s important to have a second qualification like this. My knowledge of marketing has certainly expanded during the past two years, and my postgrad studies also gave me some great exposure to international students which I count as very valuable.”
On completion of her undergraduate business degree, Kathleen returned to Griffith to study a Graduate Certificate in Marketing and when she learned that she could complete a Master of Marketing with just six months further study she threw herself into the challenge.
“It was the first time I studied full-time since the birth of my son. It was extremely challenging but I wanted to prove to myself that I could get good marks.” She finished with an impressive GPA of 6.25.
Life as an undergraduate student was a considered, stop-start experience for Kathleen who has never been afraid to step back, seek out mentorships and firsthand industry knowledge, and assess where she is going.
She started a double degree in business and arts in 2005, before revising that plan to do a double degree in business and commerce. She still values the industry internship that brought the realisation that commerce was not a career she wanted to pursue. Again she stepped back, reconsidered and decided to study a Bachelor of Business.
During this time her son Jaeden was born, a life-changing experience which prompted further reflection. Her decision to push forward with her study plans was backed by Jaeden’s supportive father.
“Working and studying was easy before, but when there’s another person involved it is extremely challenging. Quality time is very important for me, and I had to learn to give up some things to ensure I did well in others. I had to turn down some internship opportunities, but I couldn’t have delivered in quality otherwise. I’m very happy with my decision.”