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Second-year Bachelor of Nursing student Hannah Blanco tried her hand at two university courses prior to enrolling at ACU. Hannah’s confident the third time will prove to be the charm.
Born and raised in western Sydney, Hannah says she may not have stuck with nursing if she’d studied it earlier. But now, at 24, she has more life and study experience behind her, and her first taste of working in an aged-care facility has assured her she has what it takes to succeed in this rewarding field.
Impact spoke to Hannah about her journey to ACU and her studies to date.
Did you come to ACU straight after high school?
“I graduated from high school in 2014. Initially, I went to another university to study a Bachelor of Interior Architecture. It’s a very competitive degree and I just wasn’t fit for it, so I transferred to study a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) with a major in English. I studied that part-time for a couple of years and realised that wasn’t a good fit either. And then my mum suggested I try nursing.
“If I’d tried nursing earlier, I don’t think I would have been mature enough to really grasp all of it. And I feel that because I’ve been to university before, this time I’m absorbing more of the information and it’s more useful to me.”
It’s brave to change course when you learn a degree isn’t for you. Why did you pursue nursing?
“When my mum suggested it, I was like, ‘What? None of our family are nurses – are you serious?’ But I thought about it for a while and I felt nursing would be very useful, because health will always be in demand: everyone needs someone in the health profession.
“I didn’t think I would like nursing. I enjoy arts and music, and this is very by the book. But I tried it and I found the course content in my first year very interesting. I was doing really well, too, so I stuck with it – but I still didn’t think I wanted to be a nurse. And then I did my first placement in December 2021. That gave me experience being in a healthcare setting, taking care of people I didn’t know and building therapeutic relationships, and I realised I could do it and do it well. I guess mums just know everything.
“I also think caring for people is very important. It’s an innate thing within humans to care, but to do it properly is very important. Nursing is such a rewarding field to be in.”
Why did you choose ACU – and why did you decide to study at our Blacktown Campus?
“I picked ACU because some of my friends and peers studied here, and it has a very good reputation among nursing students. And I chose Blacktown because I feel that being one of the first students at a campus is special. It’s also super close to where I live – it’s a straight-line bus ride and a little walk to get to campus.”
Your studies would have been impacted by the pandemic and the Sydney lockdown in 2021. What has your experience been?
“My first year was very on and off with being on campus and doing things from home – mostly from home towards the end. It was a bit weird being online for most of it, but it hasn’t been too hard. Perhaps it’s a little bit about personality, as I don’t mind staying at home and doing things online.
“The staff at ACU have also been very supportive. And the online content is so easy to follow; it’s user friendly, all the resources are there, and it encourages lots of independent learning.”
You’re a student ambassador at ACU. Why did you apply for this role and what has it been like?
“The biggest factor for becoming a student ambassador was that, if I like something, I want to tell everyone that I like it! I was a little bit on the fence with nursing, but I was very sold on ACU. I thought ACU was such a good pick, and I can thank my teachers for that in my first year – they were very good. And because I’m a little bit older but still able to bond with younger people, I can share my experiences with the benefit of having more experience in life.”
Where do you hope to go next with your studies and your career?
“I’m still trying to figure that one out because no one in my family has a health background. My mum’s a legal secretary, my brother does taxation at a law firm and, for the past seven years until last June, I was working full-time as a legal secretary while doing uni part-time. Law wasn’t for me, but I did that because I was helping support my family.
“I’m really scared about the next two years because of my limited background in health. It will be a little bit challenging too because the last science that I touched was in Year 10, but I’m really looking forward to it. Nursing is very interesting and I’m hopeful I’ll do well.
“We have more placements coming up in hospitals, COVID permitting, which is really cool. And this semester we’re doing surgical nursing and mental health, which I think will be very interesting because we’ll touch on many different aspects of nursing. I hope one will really stick out to me as an area of specialisation.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“Hi Mum! My mum is super proud of me. She tells everyone, ‘Oh, my daughter’s becoming a nurse!’ And whenever I have an assessment task, I’m like, ‘Mum can I practise on you?’ And she’s like, ‘Oh, of course you can!’ And a shout out to my brothers and stepdad for being practice patients two, three and four.”
Hannah Blanco is studying a Bachelor of Nursing at ACU’s Blacktown Campus. Browse our nursing courses and explore our campus locations.