Parenthood inspires graduate to pursue degree in psychology
Tiffany Weston awarded University Medal, after juggling studies with three children and volunteer work.
Finishing a university degree is an achievement on its own. Doing it while juggling three young children and graduating with the University Medal takes that achievement to a new level.
But that’s what Tiffany Weston did, graduating from her Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) with the top award for the School of Psychology.
Tiffany started back on her tertiary education journey five years ago as a mature age student after putting it on hold for more than a decade.
“I always wanted to come back to university – I felt incomplete. I wanted to come back and do something that I was interested in, stretch myself and develop my skills, but I had to wait until my children were old enough that they weren’t so demanding on my time,” she said.
When her youngest turned three, Tiffany took the plunge, enrolling in the Bachelor of Psychology at the University of Wollongong (UOW).
“When I first finished high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she said.
“My father was a scientist, so I always had an interest in the science subjects.”
It was after her own brush with post-natal depression that Tiffany developed an appreciation for psychology and the way it can positively affect peoples’ lives.
“I had three kids under three and I was exhausted,” she said.
“I got through those early years and became involved with a local playgroup for women with post-natal depression called Little Steps.
“Even after my children had gone to school, I kept going to the playgroup as a support person because I could see how universal mental health challenges are and how empowering it is to have information that can help yourself and others to face those challenges.”
Although her passion lies in clinical psychology, Tiffany took on the challenge of a more experimental subject for her Honours thesis, looking at face viewpoint aftereffects and their relation to face recognition ability.
“I have always respected the experimental researchers at UOW and I decided to do my Honours year in this area of psychology because I thought it would be a great opportunity to develop research skills under their mentorship,” she said.
“My Honours research looks at how humans process faces at different tilts or angles which could have an influence on the technology we use for border security. My research hopefully gives insight into the attributes that face-selective neurons are sensitive to and increases understanding about how people process unfamiliar faces.”
Tiffany is not about to rest on her laurels. She is beginning a clinical PhD focusing on suicide prevention.
“My first experience in suicide prevention was working with Lifeline,” she said.
“I had lots of positive experiences in supporting people who were struggling and that’s when I started thinking about where I wanted to go clinically.
“I believe suicide prevention is a critical area of focus and I hope that my PhD research may increase understanding of this area and assist individuals and families who may be experiencing challenges.”