Jacinta Foale

Jacinta Foale, Educating our Future Leaders

Jacinta Foale loved her job as a Swimming Instructor. One particular day she met a four-year-old boy who was petrified of the water. Jacinta went beyond the pool to find solutions, researching and developing different methods and strategies for helping this little boy and easing his Mum’s anxiety. It was succeeding in this challenge when Jacinta realised her passion for helping children learn.

After working as a Swimming Instructor for four years, Jacinta left her job when she was 35 weeks’ pregnant. It was in this moment she decided to channel her love of helping children problem solve and overcome obstacles into a career change. Jacinta started a Graduate Diploma in Primary Teaching at Swinburne Online, with a two week old baby.

Being a new Mum studying at university level for the first time with a Police Officer husband on shift work meant flexibility was paramount. How did you structure study to suit your life?

Establishing a solid support system was the most important thing for us. Having a family around to ask for help with the baby and to read over my assignments. It took us a few weeks to develop some sort of routine that worked for our family. That’s probably some important advice I can relay to other women, each family is different and you need to work with your family to establish a routine that works for you. Of course that goes out the window some days with a Police Officer as a partner, but we did our best.

What support was available to you from your Swinburne Online student community and tutors?

The YourTutor service was fantastic. Basically, once you have finished an assignment, you can submit it to this service to have an experienced tutor look over your work. You can choose exactly what it is you want them to help you with too, whether it be sentence structure, topic relevance or referencing. I’m not the most academic person in the world, so I found this service to be amazing and so helpful in making sure I was on the right path with my assignments.

The second program that I used a lot during my studies was the Collaborate sessions. Think of Collaborate like a chat room. Your eLearning Advisor (eLA) gives you a time and ‘chat room’ number, you download the Collaborate App and access the ‘chat room’ during the scheduled time. During the Collaborate sessions, the eLA answered questions and gave really succinct advice on what they are looking for in the assignments. These sessions were also recorded for you to access anytime you want, that’s the flexibility in online studies! The Collaborate sessions could also be booked by groups for group assignments. I remember one particular group assignment, we all accessed the chat room and could have a live chat about delegating tasks, resources and how we were going to present our assignment.

One time, I hadn’t been online for a little while and my tutor and fellow students reached out to me on the phone to check in and see if I was ok. I was touched by this level of care and support.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Finding a balance between family and study. I found that difficult because I wanted to be fully present in both. The fact is, some days all I wanted to do was be a mum and other days, usually the night before a due date, all I wanted to do was sit by myself in quiet, editing and reading through my assignment. Managing that was hard, but if I can do it with a baby hanging off my breast, anybody and everybody can.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the work I have been able to do since gaining my qualification. I’ve worked with some amazing children who have brought perspective to my own life. I’ve met some truly wonderful families who have had to overcome very serious hurdles. I am proud that I can work with these families and children to make a difference in their lives. One of my most proud accomplishments has been educating my students on health.

What is one piece of advice for future female leaders?

There is never going to be a perfect moment to study. Life has a wonderful way of becoming more complicated just as you think you have it figured out! If you want to better your career or qualifications, you just have to go for it. Work with your family to establish routines and tell them exactly how much you want it. As women we sometimes think we can’t ‘go for it’, but you if you want to, you should.

It can be tough at times, it can be trying and exhausting, but trust me, that moment you press submit on your last assignment, that cathartic moment will bring immense pride and happiness.

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Posted by Alanna Bastin-Byrne - Femeconomy Director

CEO of the house, community builder and a globetrotting nomad. Background in Marketing and Communications leadership in the UK and Australia.