Trish is currently completing a Master of Design and Art at Curtin University after having a diverse career spanning the fields of health, libraries, policy, education and communications. We chatted to Trish about her regional upbringing, career and her current role with Curtin University’s Earn While You Learn (EWYL) initiative and the RRR Network.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and where you grew up?

I was born in Carnarvon after my parents moved there having previously spent eight years living on sheep stations in the Murchison Goldfields area. We relocated to Kalgoorlie when I was quite young, and this is where I grew up. My childhood was full of freedom to explore, and I would spend hours wandering around, taking long walks by myself from a very young age, investigating my surroundings and getting lost in my imagination. I remember red dirt, wide-open skies and dry bushland. Every summer we would holiday in Esperance which led to a deep love of wild, coastal areas. Those memories of distinct landscapes and moving through them form part of my current art practice.

School was a very positive experience for me. We were fortunate to have an art specialist at my primary school, and I still remember her clearly. My favourite place was the art room, followed closely by the library. In high school, we had many young, enthusiastic teachers doing their country stint, and they were very encouraging. I never felt disadvantaged growing up in a regional area. However, I did feel that art wasn’t a practical career choice at the time.

Even though I was ambitious and had a very strong desire to attend university, my final year at high school was such a fun and social time that I didn’t do too well in the end! Somehow, I scraped through and studied nursing. This turned out to be the wrong choice for me, but I finished the course anyway and then went on to complete a degree in library and information studies through Curtin.

What did you do after university?

I started with a few short-term contracts in library and information management roles and then found a position at WA Health, where I spent many fulfilling years in research and policy roles. My qualifications in health and library studies combined nicely to support the work I did there. A move to Albany came next when my husband was transferred for his work.

At first, this move felt like a huge setback as I’d gone from a well-paid and rewarding city job to nothing! I felt very lost at first. Eventually, though I found my feet and discovered many opportunities. I started working at Great Southern TAFE, where I was employed in several different roles and gained a lot of experience in the education and training sector. I then moved to Albany Public Library, where I worked as a professional librarian.

The Great Southern Region is a beautiful area, full of wonder, and we spent our weekends exploring it. 

After four years, we moved back to Perth, and I returned to WA Health until I had my children. I worked part-time in health again once they got a little older, but it was around this time a desire was building in me to pursue some further studies. I tried a few postgraduate courses, but nothing stuck. Throughout my working life, I have practised art in my spare time taking courses in drawing, painting and printmaking. I decided it was now or never if I wanted to explore this further and enrolled in the Master of Applied Design and Art at Curtin. So here I am, balancing study, work and parenting.

Tell us about your role with Curtin University’s Earn While You Learn initiative.

Curtin University’s Earn While You Learn (EWYL) initiative connects students into casual and part-time job roles at the university and through Curtin’s close partnership with RRR Network, I’ll be working to share the stories of outstanding RRR students and alumni.

I am looking forward to chatting with RRR women and learning about their journeys, hopes, challenges and life in regional areas. It is hoped that by sharing these stories, women in the regions will feel supported and inspired to pursue their career goals no matter where they might be.

What are your goals for the future?

Currently, my goal is to complete my postgraduate degree and continue to explore painting techniques as I’m still trying to find my artistic voice. Eventually, I would like to combine my interests in art, design, research and writing, but I’m not exactly sure how that will look just yet!