The ability to share her science knowledge with enthusiastic young school students drew Margi Sweeney to a career as a science teacher.
In enrolling in a Bachelor of Science at The Australian National University (ANU), Sweeney was enticed by the prospects of field trips and quality education, which was then furthered by a Graduate Diploma in Teaching at the University of Canberra (UC).
"I decided I wanted to share my love of science by teaching and emulating the enthusiastic science lecturers I had at ANU, which inspired my interest in the topics they were teaching," Sweeney says.
"During my honours year at ANU, I was asked to help tutor the first year students. This was when I realised how much I would enjoy teaching.
"I remember one student saying that I had really helped her, which gave me a real buzz. I worked as a geologist for several years and then decided I wanted to teach overseas, it was at this point I decided to do a Graduate Diploma in Education at UC."
That decision quickly paid off as Sweeney secured a role as a science and geography secondary school teacher. It was a far cry from working in exploration geology for a mining company before her UC studies.
Her career change also took her to Africa, where she spent a year in a Malawi secondary school with Australian Volunteers International.
She has recently jumped back into science to study for her PhD in environmental geoscience and land management at UC.
Sweeney believes she would have benefitted from a vertical double degree between ANU and UC.
"It would have given me an advantage over the other science teachers who were three-year-trained or only possessed a Diploma of Education," she says.
"Completing a science degree before a teaching qualification not only gives you a wider range of knowledge of science but opens up a range of other possibilities for employment, not just in schools but also in science communication roles."
Margi Sweeney (nee Spandler) BSc(Hons) 1999 (from ANU), GradDipEd 2000 (from UC)