My name is Hannah Richardson, Dharawal woman born and bred in the Illawarra.
I have just completed a Bachelor of Computer Science (Dean’s Scholar). My motivation to undergo this degree came when I completed Certificate 3 in Business Administration, I found myself more interested in the computer aspects of the course and was going home to write excel macros (my first introduction to programming).
My partner was working as a System Admin and he’d often talk about work and it made me feel like it was something I’d like to do. So, I applied for the Bachelor of Information Technology. As I had not completed my HSC and was a mature student (25 when I applied), I was accepted into the University Access Program through the UOW college. This was a good experience that helped me get used to how things work at uni as well as challenging myself with subjects that weren’t my forte, I completed a Math, English and Chemistry course over 6 months and upon successful completion moved into uni to begin my degree.
After the first year of my course, I began to realize my passion and interests lay in programming and software development, because of this I requested to move from bachelor of IT (which had more business focus than I was interested in) into Bachelor of Computer Science majoring in Software Engineering. I was contacted by the head of students who informed me that due to my grades I was eligible to go into the Deans Scholar variant of the degree (this offered me some benefits along with undergoing a research subject and having to keep a WAM of above 80). I was nervous about being able to keep up the marks but keen for the challenge as well!
During my studies, I also applied to be a tutor at WIC as I had helped some friends through the semesters and wanted to offer help to more students who wanted to go into computer science and IT. This has been an extremely rewarding experience for me as I love seeing the students shine and do really well in their subjects!
I also worked as a cadet at the Australian Taxation Office over two years of my degree, this opportunity was an amazing one that gave me access to on the job experience as a software developer and system support while completing my degree. I got to work one day a week in the office and full time during uni breaks (giving me a great look into what life will be like after uni!).
Highlights for me during my studies have been; receiving deans merit in my first year of study, being the recipient of a number of scholarships including “The Do Your Thing Scholarship for Female Developers” and “2020 Scholarship for Australian Indigenous Women” (these were such an honour to receive and helped me to upgrade my computer), as well as finishing off the years of work with great success in the SCIT trade show with my team winning best marketing and runner up best project!
Now that I have finished my degree I applied for some graduate programs and have accepted one with Accenture. This is in Canberra and will see me and my family move down to Yass – Ngunnawal/Wiradjuri country - where we are going to build our family home on a small farm, and I will be commuting into Canberra for work! I can’t wait to see what I will learn and do during this graduate program and I look forward to future opportunities as a software engineer.
Some advice that I will offer students is just to not give up, get your assignments started early (so you have plenty of time to work on them), do internships or cadetships, and believe in yourself! Ask me 5 years ago and I never would have imagined that I would be able to complete a Bachelor of Computer Science let alone with Distinction! Anything is possible if you work for it.