Sarah Andrews, Liberty Co-op member and member of the Newsletter Advisory Group (NAG) interviewed 2020 scholarship recipient Jessica, Liberty Co-op member to find out what she got most out of the CEHL study grant.

Jessica (pictured above), the newest member of Liberty Co-op took the time to ponder the nature of CEHL study grants, on being a social justice advocate, and what the Arts, as well as Education, means to her.

Jess, what are you studying?

I'm starting my second year of an MTeach (Masters of Teaching) at The University of Melbourne. The qualification will allow me to apply for teaching jobs as a visual arts and design teacher in government and private schools, as well as similar education roles within other organisations (hospitals, museums and galleries, correctional facilities). It's two years full-time study and includes three placements. Last year I undertook a placement during remote learning and got to design an online unit for year 7- a steep learning curve!

How long have you been studying?

It's been a few years on my current path in the arts. After having my children and taking time out of the workforce I found meaningful re-entry to work very difficult, so made the decision to undertake more study instead (I already had a Bachelors). Prior to the Masters I was studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts and, as there are virtually no vocational outcomes with such a degree, I moved straight on to doing my Masters.

Where do you hope your study will lead?

I feel like there is a lot of scope for a very satisfying and challenging career in education, and it's also a field with a lot of opportunities. I'm a strong advocate for social justice and inclusion approaches, and I believe the arts support rigorous learning and deep thinking, so I see myself in a role where I can support trans-formative outcomes for young people through art, whether that's in a school or some other institution I'm not sure. I think schools and education are changing rapidly right now, so it would be exciting to be at the forefront of such change: to ensure it isn't shaped mainly by current economic demands and ranking (this is what the back-to-basics argument that politicians perpetuate is doing), but rather by approaches that aim to address the whole person. As a practising artist it is also important to me that my work allows the time and energy for me to dedicate to my own art making, so ideally the role I find will have some flexibility.

How did the $2,000 CEHL scholarship funds help you with your studies?

I was able to buy a home printer, I don't know how I would have gotten through last year without one. Paying the kids school and camp fees is a lot of financial pressure at the start of each school year, having the extra funds meant I could bypass that stress and focus on the pandemic- ha!

Is there anything that stands as a positive during such a hard year, that would not have been possible had you not received the study grant in 2020?

I think that the grant, as much as being a definite financial support, demonstrates that CEHL values continuing education, the intellectual and social growth that comes along with new learning. I'm very grateful to have been the recipient twice. Also being part of a program that already provides a means for low-income families to have great educational outcomes through access to secure and affordable housing. I would not have been able to pursue my own educational and career goals in the same way if I were navigating the private rental system.

If anyone would like to be interviewed about something that is important to them, please email newsletter@cehl.com.au