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From tragedy to triumph- Indigenous alumnus chooses CQUni for further study  

[by Tiahna Fiddling]

Image: supplied

Kristie Dillon’s study journey has not always been an easy one, but adversity has never stopped her passion for marine conservation and dedication to education.

CONTENT WARNING: This story discusses suicide and mental health. If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36, Headspace on 1800 650 890. If you're in immediate danger, call 000. CQUniversity students can visit https://www.cqu.edu.au/student-life/new-students/student-support/counselling to access the free student counselling service or connect with other wellbeing resources on the student portal.

“My studies have taught me that any obstacle can be overcome. No matter what life throws at you, if you are willing to put in the work then you can be whatever you want to be, Ms Dillon explained.

“In 2013 my husband committed suicide just as I was about to complete my Honours Research Degree. It was the biggest challenge of my life.

“It took few years to get back on my study path, but I felt as a woman and a mother that I should set an example for my children, to always encourage them to reach higher.”

Seven years later, the mum to three young children has now started her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at CQUniversity with her research focused around the restoration of Zostera muelleri, a seagrass native to the Queensland region.

“Marine based science has always been my passion since I was a child and as an Indigenous woman this field of research holds such cultural significance,” she said.

“I want to play a part in helping to conserve and restore our deteriorating lands and oceans.

“Most people don’t realise that seagrass meadows, including Zostera muelleri, are vital to our coastal ecosystems. They support a range of marine species, filter out fine sediment and nutrients and offset our carbon footprint.”

After completing her Bachelor of Science (Applied Biology) with CQU, the Bundaberg local explained how it was an easy choice to continue her studies with the university given the reputation in coastal marine ecosystem research.

“Not only did the close proximity of Bundaberg campus suit me and my family but CQUniversity has developed new partnerships and research networks forging research collaborations which are synergistic rather than duplicative,” Ms Dillon said.

“My kids are very interested in what I am doing, and they are very supportive which makes it easier to balance full-time employment, study and my family.”

Kristie Dillion also works to give back to the community as a mentor with CQU’s Alumni online mentoring program to provide the next generation of students with additional guidance.

“For any Mothers out there looking at going back to uni give it a go, you will surprise yourself. It can be very rewarding, and you are never too old to do something you love.”

Deputy Vice President Indigenous Engagement Professor Adrian Miller praised Ms Dillon for being an outstanding role model on many levels.

“Not only has Kristie demonstrated the highest level of resilience but has continued to be a role model for other Indigenous people seeking a career in Marine Science or considering postgraduate study," Prof Miller said.

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