From dance to degrees

COVID-19 has thrown a bit of a spanner into the works of practically anyone since it began to affect our day-to-day lives at the start of 2020. Whilst a lot of it has honestly sucked, it has also provided some new opportunities in life and new directions to explore. This is especially relevant for Early Childhood and Primary Education student Allier Cordier, a single mum who swapped her decade-long dance school for a degree at Charles Sturt. I caught up with Allier to see how her first year at Charles Sturt has gone amidst COVID, children and a whole new experience being at uni.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

“Previous to starting at Charles Sturt, I had a dance school which I ran for 10 years, so that was pretty much all I had ever done. That was basically me until COVID-19 hit which made me think about things I guess.

“I am a single mum, I’ve got a five and a seven-year-old, and when COVID hit, I was looking at career stability and also a career that would fit around my kids. Running a dance school was 24/7 really, the commitments teaching classes were all outside of school hours and on weekends which I figured once my two were at school was going to leave little time to spend with them.”

What was it like teaching a dance school for 10 years?

“I loved it. Initially when I had started, my passion was dance, but over the years I found that my passion shifted more towards the kids themselves, especially the early years. That was my biggest joy, teaching the preschool, primary school age groups which is why I have now gone on to do early childhood and primary.”

What was it like to change to something completely new in the height of COVID?

“It was pretty nerve-wracking. I was pretty anxious to begin with. I was never overly academic at school, so I was sort of like “would I be able to keep up with the uni workload” or “am I even capable of doing uni”, so yeah, it was a really big unknown.

“I’m the sort of person who likes to plan things and everything is in a routine so it was a huge change for me. I am certainly very glad that I have done it.”

How has your first year been as a new student?

“It’s certainly had its moments where I was questioning what I had done but overall I have really enjoyed it. I feel like in the first 12 months already, I have learnt a lot. I sort of questioned why I didn’t do it earlier.”

What is it like balancing study and 2 kids under the age of 10?

“It’s a balance. I find that I do a lot of trying to get a half hour in wherever I can, early mornings, late nights while they’re doing their swimming or gymnastics, I’ll be sitting on the sidelines finishing a chapter or things like that. I have found this semester now that we are back on campus that the tutors have been really accommodating which was awesome, there have been a few times where I have had to take the kids with me.”

What has been the difference between online study and studying on campus?

“I was pretty nervous coming onto campus. I am someone who can work well independently so that again was jumping out of my comfort zone. But it’s been quite smooth since starting on campus.”

Now that you are a year in, what advice do you have for someone who is thinking about changing careers and going to uni?

“Do it. I found that there was a whole variety of support through Charles Sturt. I have reached out to all different areas so far, the tutors and everyone have been very supportive. If it is something you can do, then there is definitely a way to do it.”

What are some of your experiences studying on campus?

“I’m in Thurgoona, which is near Albury, so it is really handy because it is walking distance from my house or bike riding distance. I am pretty environmental, so I like the fact that I don’t have to use my car to get to uni.

“I am really enjoying the campus. I find that quite often I will go to the library or one of the rooms there to study instead of studying at home. It is just a nice environment to study.”

Have you set any study goals for the rest of the year?

“I have definitely surprised myself over the last year with the results that I have been able to achieve. I am really pushing myself for the rest of the year to keep improving these results.

What career aspirations have you got and where would you like to go once you’ve graduated?

“When I started the degree last year, I was pretty intent on being a primary school teacher. Since starting the degree, I had my first placement in a preschool and I thoroughly enjoyed that.

I am considering further study. I’m pretty open minded to anything at the moment. I think I would even enjoy tutoring some of the classes that I have done eventually, teaching people to be teachers.”