Student profile: Batemans Bay co-curricular champion Katrina Manning

Student profile: Batemans Bay co-curricular champion Katrina Manning determined to make her mark in teaching

“It’s a continuous process of learning, taking opportunities as they’re presented and setting challenges for myself.”

Having not studied for 12 years, Katrina Manning has come full circle since commencing her undergraduate Bachelor of Arts at UOW’s Batemans Bay Campus, transitioning from mentee to mentor during her participation in the UOWx programs.

A born teacher, Katrina’s warm and approachable persona is complemented with her passion to deliver quality education to help support the growth of others.

After travelling abroad and living and working in Sydney, at age 29, Katrina returned to her childhood home of Moruya on the South Coast to be closer to family. This came with the added bonus of being able to study at the nearby and relatively new Batemans Bay Campus.

Katrina says she was drawn to the smaller campus atmosphere, which she felt would offer a nice learning environment with supportive staff who understood how overwhelmed and daunted she was by the idea of studying again.

“I was ready to leave Sydney and I think growing up on the coast, I knew there was going to be an expiry date on living in the city and it really worked out well that I could come back down here and still pursue my aspirations.”

With the goal of becoming a teacher firmly in her sights, Katrina embarked on her Arts degree which she intends to follow with a Master of Teaching (Primary). She wasted no time throwing herself into uni life, participating in PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions), a UOWx program aimed at supporting students through their academic studies.

Encouraged by UOWx staff and the positive experiences of students in the year above, she was inspired to become part of UOWx and its affiliated programs in a mentor capacity.

Despite not feeling overly confident, Katrina recognised her role in many of the UOWx programs correlated with that of a teacher, and the opportunity to work with primary students through the In2Uni program would benefit her future career.

Three years on, Katrina is now the Batemans Bay co-curricular champion, having been involved as a mentor in a range of programs; In2Uni, including the University Preparation Program, PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions), and ITAP (Indigenous tutoring program). In 2018, she was offered the role of a PASS team leader, coming full circle from her first year as a participant.

She credits UOWx with building her confidence in teaching, not only with primary students but with secondary students and other university students through the various programs.

Katrina acknowledges these experiences have helped her learn a lot about herself; both in managing her personal expectations and the students’ needs.

“Realising you’re there as a support but not putting too much expectation on yourself is a valuable learning curve, something I think is important to remember when going into teaching.”

While recalling her own positive experiences, Katrina urges other students to join the UOWx programs for the opportunities they present, and the chance to develop key employability and enterprising skills – which go above and beyond getting a degree.

While excelling in extra-curricular activities, Katrina has achieved a High Distinction average – something she credits with setting herself a high standard and careful time management.

“University is all about trial and error, you are in a position to make mistakes and adjustments to see what works for you.

“It’s important not to be so critical of yourself and put yourself down, because you will hate the experience and that’s not what it is about, it’s about embracing the learning experience,” she says.

Katrina draws her inspiration from both her sister Renee and an 81-year-old fellow classmate, Joan Dolstra, who she admires for their bravery in taking on challenges and being committed to seeking new opportunities to continuously learn – qualities she has come to demonstrate herself.

“Joan and Renee are both inspirations as they show there is no limit to learning, regardless of challenges or setbacks. I hope I continue to learn and pursue knowledge all my life as they have, and to pass this passion onto my future students.”

She says her experience studying at the Batemans Bay Campus has solidified her career choice and expressed her gratitude for the support received from the Batemans Bay staff, in particular Campus Manager Jaimey Facchin and Regional Careers Consultant, Jade Andrews.

“I want to give back and provide students with the same opportunities I have had because I know the value of a good education as well as the importance of the support needed along the way to help achieve my academic goals.”

Katrina expects to graduate at the end of this year and hopes to continue with her postgraduate study, before realising her dream of becoming a teacher.

Her long-term ambition is to help create positive change to the education system where she would like to transition into developing school curriculums and researching the learning environment, to holistically consider the way students learn.