University of Tasmania 2017 education graduate Laurel Atkins celebrates with close friends and family

Graduate: Laurel Atkins, 24, will graduate on Saturday with her degree in education. Picture: Paul Scambler
Graduate: Laurel Atkins, 24, will graduate on Saturday with her degree in education. Picture: Paul Scambler

No one would have blamed Laurel Atkins for taking a break from her studies this year.

In August, her father Ron Atkins, Tasmania’s finest snooker player, had died, and Ms Atkins was left seriously questioning whether she even wanted to continue her education degree at the University of Tasmania.

But continue she did.

“Dad had a terminal illness so we knew it was coming,” Ms Atkins, 24, said.

“I would have loved to have him see me graduate, but I know he’s there.”

Losing her father, combined with working three jobs at Jeans West, Stillwater and Dance Fit, and studying full-time, meant Ms Atkins was faced with an overwhelming challenge.

It was the support of her family, close friends, and her partner that got her through – and on Saturday, Ms Atkins will celebrate completing her four-year degree.

“They say don’t do a degree and work full-time, and that’s exactly what I did,” she said.

“At one point working three jobs and losing my dad, I was just like ‘I want to quit’, I really didn’t want to do the degree any more, didn’t want to teach.”

The support of her family, friends, her partner and her partner’s parents encouraged her to hold fast to her dreams and keep going.

“My friends and my partner have been such a support network over my degree,” Ms Atkins said.

“I get to graduate with three of my very best friends, they’re doing [education] as well.”

First drawn to teaching through her work with Dance Fit, Ms Atkins discovered how much she loved coaching young people and knew she’d found her calling.

She has her sights set on finding a teaching job in Launceston, preferably in grade 5-6.

“I love kids – I know everyone says that, it’s such a cliche,” she said.

“But I do absolutely love working with children, seeing them improve and making a difference.”

  • St John Street between Paterson and Cameron streets will be closed, Saturday, 9am – 10:30am for the Town and Gown Parade.