Growing up in South Africa was an eye-opening experience for Debbie – it was where her passion for social justice starting blossoming. Decades later, Debbie is adding another degree to her collection, with the big-picture goal of helping communities to thrive.
As a child, Debbie can remember feeling frustrated by issues like segregation, which were permeating South Africa at the time. “In the play-ground, I had lots of times where I was arguing against Apartheid and discrimination” Debbie recalls. At 13 years of age, she moved with her parents to Australia, to avoid the enlistment of her older brother into the army. Now based in Adelaide, Debbie runs a loving and tight-knit household, with a family of her own.
After studying degrees in Psychology and Education, Debbie decided to enrol into a Murdoch University double degree through Open Universities Australia (OUA), studying a Bachelor of Arts (Community Development) and a Bachelor of Arts (Sustainable Development). “My motivation is definitely about knowledge, growth and learning, and doing that with other people in a way that’s life affirming, and creates growth for everyone, not just me”. Debbie is due to finish her degree this year and is very excited. “It’s been a journey. I’ve been part-time, then gone full-time depending on circumstances” explains Debbie. “That flexibility has just been fantastic for me as a single parent of three boys.”
Debbie chose to home-school her children, who are quickly growing up and exploring their own passions. “Having home-schooled, it’s interesting to have a different take on education, because it hasn’t been so much about an institution, but about embracing opportunities that life has to offer, and exploring what you’re passionate about”. Debbie’s eldest son, Jamie, is interested in philosophy, activism and social change. “He has a keen mind – a very sharp young man” says Debbie proudly. “Sharing of knowledge around the dinner table has definitely happened many times.”
Driven by her strong sense of social justice and connection to community, Debbie is working as a volunteer on two major projects within her community. When she does get a spare moment, you’ll find her in the garden, embracing her love for permaculture. “Without gardening I wouldn’t be here – it’s definitely fundamental to my health and wellbeing, and my ability to continue studying”.
Debbie has a bright future, and her local community ought to feel safe in the hands of this passionate, driven woman. “I feel confident because of my experience with Open Universities Australia. I can go out and say I have something of value to offer.””
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