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Students in Focus

On the right path

Holly Caffery’s time on campus is hectic. She has a one-hour commute from Goulburn every Thursday and Friday, with six hours of back-to-back classes, and study time in between.

The First Year Bachelor of Commerce student is juggling her degree with part-time work Boyce Chartered Accountants in Goulburn, and her duties as the recently elected Mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree Youth Council.

Holly has been volunteering with the youth council for five years, attending monthly meetings and helping run events to engage with 12- to 24-year-olds in the Goulburn community.

“Everyone on the youth council is really passionate about issues that we feel are important to young people – right now, the biggest issues are mental health and sustainability.”

Holly says one of its biggest events is hosting the 2022 Youth Council Conference that brought together young minds from across New South Wales to brainstorm and workshop ideas.

“We are putting those thoughts on paper soon to lobby government about better access to mental health for young people living in rural areas,” she says.

After finishing high school in 2020, Holly headed to the city to study a Bachelor of Advanced Medical Science at Western Sydney University.

She soon decided it wasn’t the right move for her.

“I just didn't love it, as I would go back home and not really study that much,” Holly says.

She returned to Goulburn and applied for a cadetship at Boyce Chartered Accountants in November 2021.

At the same time, she decided to apply to study a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Canberra.

“I genuinely woke up one day and decided I was going to apply,” Holly says.

“When I got in, I was nervous because I had already dropped out of my other course, and I didn't want to hate this as well – then I would have no clue what I was going to do.”

Holly was already three months into her accounting cadetship when she started at UC and knew that one of her biggest challenges would be time management.

“Work is really supportive – they want me to succeed at UC, so they are helping to make sure I get my study done so I can take on a full-time position with them after that,” she says.

Despite having never studied any business or economics subjects in high school, Holly says she was always interested in mathematics.

Now she enjoys taking the theoretical concepts from her lectures and tutorials at UC and applying them to her accounting work.

“I like working in an office environment and problem-solving with numbers,” Holly says.

Settling into Semester Two of study, Holly is confident she is on the right path.

“The majority of my classes are on campus now, which I really feel helps me learn and I love the support and the accessibility here at UC.”

As a youth advocate and a young person, Holly says her journey of trial and error demonstrates the need to let go of any fear of trying something new.

“Even though I didn't like my initial degree, I don't regret any of my decisions because I think if you want to do something and you don't try it, you’ll regret it later – the worst thing that can happen is figuring out you don't like it and moving on to something else,” she says.

As Holly works towards a career in accounting, she remains passionate about serving the interests of the Goulburn community and says she will consider running for council.

“I love the Goulburn community,” she says. “I've been part of it for a long time.”

“Even though I love coming to Canberra and UC and I've made friends here, I definitely feel my passion is being able to contribute to the community in Goulburn, and I love my workplace as well.”

Words by Emma Larouche, Photos by Tyler Cherry

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