Nicole and Holli Pritchard, wearing blue graduation gowns and caps, stand next to each other and smile. Photo: Michael Gray

Mother and daughter thrilled to celebrate graduation together

Mother and daughter thrilled to celebrate graduation together

Nicole and Holli Pritchard both studied Bachelor of Nursing at UOW Eurobodalla

Family is often at the heart of the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) graduation ceremonies, but it is not often that family members graduate from the same degree on the same day.

For mother-daughter duo Nicole and Holli Pritchard, it was a milestone in more ways than one, as they both celebrated their graduation on Wednesday (24 January) from the Bachelor of Nursing at UOW Eurobodalla.

Donning matching caps and gowns, and with the support of their family, Nicole and Holli finished their degree in the same way they started – together.

“We are really excited to be graduating together,” Nicole said. “It was an amazing experience studying with my own daughter and completing a degree with her. Just knowing she was there by my side got me to the finish line. There were a lot of tears.”

Holli had finished high school in Batemans Bay and applied for early entry to UOW Eurobodalla at the same time as Nicole was considering a career change. A long-time member of the beauty industry, she was thrown for loop during the pandemic but decided to seize the opportunity to do something different.

“I have wanted to study nursing for a long time as my main goal is to be a midwife. I began the degree in 2016 but only last six weeks.

“After COVID locked us all down, I knew it was now or never, and it just happened to be Holli’s final year of high school. Holli received early entry and I applied as a mature age student, and we were both accepted.”

Holli, for her part, was drawn to the many options and avenues that nursing presented.

“At the time I was finishing high school with no idea of which career to choose. So, I applied for nursing because I thought it was a really broad career path. At first, I wanted to do paediatrics but now I can’t wait to be a cosmetic nurse,” Holli said.

They started the degree sitting alongside each other, Nicole said, but by the end, they were sitting across the room, reflecting their growth as mother and daughter, as students, and as individuals.

Nicole Pritchard wears a blue gown and cap and stands in front of the Batemans Bay Pavilions. Photo: Michael Gray

Nicole Pritchard

While studying alongside each other was an incredible experience, there was the odd stressful moment, Nicole said with a laugh.

“We both had very different ways of studying and completing our work. I would have finished an assessment and, as a mum, I would stress if Holli hadn't finished hers so it caused a little bit of tension at times,” she said.

“Placements were the best part of the degree. We were fortunate enough to complete three placements together at the same hospitals. Working alongside Holli in the Emergency Department one evening was an experience I will always remember. It was a proud moment for me as a mum, she was so confident in what she was doing, because cause I'm definitely not like that.”

Holli loved the content of the degree but said the juggle of placements and other priorities was at times difficult.

“I loved studying nursing, especially the anatomy subjects as I find it really interesting learning how our bodies function,” she said. “Placement could be hard due to financial and travel reasons but the experience itself was so fun, especially my Emergency Department placement I thoroughly enjoyed and learnt a lot of valuable knowledge.”

The community of UOW Eurobodalla was also instrumental in providing Nicole and Holli with the support they needed throughout their degrees.

It was a really great experience studying at UOW Eurobodalla as it felt like a close little family within our class,” Holli said. “Not only that the staff were always so supportive and eager which allowed my experience to be as smooth as possible.”

“The staff at the campus are amazing,” Nicole agreed. “Being part of the small regional campus definitely had its perks.

“All of us just felt like we were part of one big happy family. It was such a fun and supportive environment and we have all formed friendships that will last a lifetime.”

A close up image of Holli Pritchard wearing a blue gown and cap. Photo: Michael Gray

Holli Pritchard

Now that they have finished their Bachelor of Nursing, Holli and Nicole are both working as nurses in the field. Nicole will soon begin a role as a new graduate Registered Nurse at Batemans Bay Hospital with the aim of applying for the NSW Government’s MidStart program to achieve her dream of becoming a midwife.

Holli is enjoying a gap year after the back-to-back intensity of high school and university before jumping in to a cosmetics courts.

“I felt like I need this year to have a little break,” she said. “I can’t wait to see where my nursing career takes me, with the potential of possibly entering medical school to expand my cosmetic career pathway.”

The duo were thrilled to be sharing the experience of graduating together.

“I can’t believe we graduated,” Nicole said. 

“I’m excited and also proud of my accomplishments,” Holli agreed.