Never wanting to move away from the Hawkesbury is a feeling many locals can attest to, and it was with this in mind that Riverstone resident and children's educator Paige Taylor turned online to complete her study during COVID-19.
Ms Taylor always knew she wanted to work with children - and had the imagination to suit the career - so she turned her passion to completing a Bachelor of Education (Birth to 5 Years) remotely with the Charles Sturt School of Education.
After completing high school Paige took a couple of gap years which allowed her to consider what she wanted to do in the workforce.
"I had a few years in between high school and starting uni to get clear on what I wanted to do and where I wanted my career to go," she said.
"I spent time studying my Certificate III and Diploma in Early Education, and it was during this time that I knew I wanted to continue extending my knowledge and experience to provide the best possible care for children."
Paige commenced work as an early childhood educator at Fit Kidz the Early Learning Centre in Dural a few months prior to starting her Certificate III studies.
Working in this role fostered her growing love and interest in children and their development. She felt compelled to further her skill set and knowledge in education principles, so she applied to study a Bachelor of Education at Charles Sturt.
"As I loved my job and the hands-on experience I was getting I didn't want to give that up to take on further study," she said.
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"I applied to study my course, online, in the hopes I could do both."
Paige said it was particularly isolating completing her degree during the COVID-19 pandemic as not only was she studying online, alone, but her workplace was also interrupted.
"COVID-19 caused our workdays to be cut back which created a huge hurdle for me, socially," she said.
"The course was great but combining work and study time, at home, added to the sense of cabin fever after a while."
Despite the challenges presented during this period, Paige was determined to get her degree and is proud of herself for pushing through the hard times.
Her dream is to be the best educator she can be in the years to come.