It was a bitter-sweet moment for new UniHub Spencer Gulf Port Pirie co-ordinator Kim Gregory.
She was talking about a subject close to her heart – the benefits of tertiary study – when she mentioned her late daughter Hayley Spinks.
Hayley, who died after heart complications at Fisherman’s Bay in 2011 when aged 12 years old, would probably have been interested in enrolling in the Spencer Gulf’s new university if she had survived.
“She wasn’t the world’s best student, but she would have picked up the opportunity to study locally in a heartbeat,” Ms Gregory said.
The co-ordinator came to her new job via the office of Independent Frome MP Geoff Brock, the Barunga West District Council and a posting at Yalata near Ceduna where she worked with Aboriginals under the guidance of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Despite her wealth of experience, she wishes she had attended university. “I would have studied teaching and social work,” she said. She does have a diploma of management and certficate in paralegal studies.
In her new job, she is helping to meet a huge demand for graduate teachers in the area, particularly in secondary and early-childhood roles.
The campus, in Ellen Street in the former public library building, will offer degrees in early-childhood, primary and secondary teaching. A Master’s degree will be taught for teachers who need this qualification to aspire to become principals.
Ms Gregory is responsible for student support, campus management and enrolment support.
She said she had already shared her “life story” with aspiring students and encouraged them to enrol for courses that will change their lives.
Originally from Adelaide, Ms Gregory moved to Port Broughton in 2008. She ran a small business and worked as electorate officer for Mr Brock then became personal assistant to the chief executive officer and mayor of Barunga West council.
In 2013, she moved to Ceduna and managed the Remote School Attendance Strategies program for the federal government.
Later, at Yalata's Aboriginal community, she worked with the Work for the Dole scheme with a private employment company.
“I have met a couple of prime ministers now. I have a great selfie with Malcolm Turnbull when he visited Yalata,” she said.