You can overcome any obstacle

Diploma of Nursing graduate Theresa Davis has encountered her fair share of obstacles, this is her story.

18 Feb 2017

From nursing my toys back to health as a child, to providing an unconscious man on the street with first aid as a teenager, taking care of people has always been a big part of my life. Minor events ignited an interest in a career in health, however this interest turned into passion once I had my first child.

As a teen mum, it was a daunting task to take on the responsibility of caring for another human being. Motherhood taught me so many lessons that I cannot put into words. It has helped me become the person I am today. It has given me the strength, courage and determination to tackle any obstacles that life may bring.

Theresa Davis speaking at graduation
I recently shared my story at the 2017 Ipswich graduation

Life went on and soon enough my son was ready to begin school. With the help of my Mum, I could begin working. I worked in retail, administration and business; I even traveled around schools and taught kids how to blow their nose properly. But, none of these were jobs that I felt I could spend my life doing. Then, suddenly, an opportunity to become a Dental Assistant came along. I had no idea what was in store, however on-the-on training helped me through it. This was when I realised I enjoyed working in health.

Eventually I decided to take on a Certificate III in Dental Assisting and make it official. I spent my free time away from motherhood studying and working, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my mum. My course was long distance, and rather than submitting assignments online I had to send them through snail mail and maintain contact with my teachers via phone calls – very old school.

The course required me to travel out of town and do practical training. Everything went well and it was a smooth period of studying. One morning I was ready to leave for my practical training when suddenly my mum had a heart attack. With only my two children and myself home with her, I had the task of providing first aid. I performed CPR on her until our neighbours came to help, my daughter was still asleep and my son was there to witness it.

I continued the compressions until an ambulance arrived, however later that day they informed me that she had passed away. Despite the grief and stress, an ambulance officer had told me that I did an amazing job at keeping her here while I could. To my surprise, she had thought I was actually a nurse. I believe this is the moment I really knew what I wanted to do.

After this tragedy struck, my family and I spent a week grieving in the shadows. However, I was determined to go back to life as normal for the sake of my children and myself. I ended up finishing my Certificate and became a qualified Dental Assistant.

Theresa Davis won an award at graduation
I won the Award for Consistent Commitment and Diligence in Nursing Studies at graduation

Life became regimented and steady, however I felt as though I needed to advance in my career. So, I took a leap of faith and applied for a Bachelor of Nursing. I completed my first semester with flying colours and was enjoying every minute of studying. I breezed through the first year without too many hassles and was certain that nursing was what I wanted to do.

Set for the second year of studies, my oldest brother unexpectedly became sick with chronic renal failure. With this alongside the past events, I could not continue to study as my mind was always too preoccupied. So, I put a halt on my degree.

He never had our Mum to help him through his illness and he struggled greatly with accepting it. I helped him as much as I could while taking care of my children. Once again, it was a continuous, steady road from there on. I was the sole carer for my kids as well as, in some way, a carer for my brother. It was during this time that I met my partner.

Some years passed by and I eventually had my third child. I was still working as a casual dental assistant, however I still felt as though I wasn’t progressing in my career in any way. It was during this time, my birth mother’s husband was diagnosed with cancer. They both lived in Ipswich for over 20 years and had always tried to convince me to make the move from New South Wales to Queensland. Eventually our regular summer holiday visits turned into weekly visits as his health deteriorated.

I wanted nothing more than to help my natural mother care for him in his final days. Leading up to his passing, he always etched it into my mind that there were so many more opportunities to study and work in Queensland than there were in NSW. After he left us, I decided one day to pick up nursing again.

My two youngest kids were settled into school and eventually we all became proud Queenslanders. Once life had settled again, I applied for my Diploma of Nursing at TAFE Queensland in Ipswich. Nobody expected it at all, I don’t even think I knew what I was getting myself into.

I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

My family’s facial expressions when I told them about my impulsive move were priceless.

My first day was full of nerves, excitement and worried faces. I met my teachers, classmates and facilitators and loved every moment of what I was doing. I recall a conversation I had with one of my teachers, she had asked what I was doing at the time.

“I’m just a mum,” was my reply. She went on to say, “You’re not just a mum. You’re a carer, caterer, cleaner, organiser, financial advisor, advocated and most importantly a friend.”

This made me realise that everything I had been through had eventually led me to nursing.

It was tricky getting back into studying after so long, but with the help of everything staff member on campus I tackled the 5000 word essays and endless hours of practical training. I thought everything was going wonderfully, and then a younger brother of mine had progressively gotten very sick over time.

We made a deal together, that I would finish my Diploma and go back to NSW to care for him. Sadly he passed away right in the middle of my studies, and once again I put my education momentarily on hold. I think over time everything from my past had caught up to me and I ended up having to repeat my final semester.

Not once did I ever consider just giving up, especially when I was so close to getting to where I wanted to be.

Theresa Davis and her family
Family is everything

With the constant support and love I was shown by everyone around me, I finally made it. Despite all of the grief and hardship in life, I am blessed.

My oldest son is now 25 with one daughter and twins on the way. He has pursued his passion for cooking and is now responsible for catering to 140 children.

My daughter is now 19, she is a psychology and justice student who is working on her way to becoming a clinical forensic psychologist. She’s also finally moving out of home soon.

My youngest son is 10 and it still astounds me everyday how intelligent his is growing to be. He’s read hundreds of books and has a bright future ahead of him.

Finally, I have my partner. He has stuck by me and my children for about 14 years, give or take – it’s been too long!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that life does get in the way but never lose sight of your dreams and aspirations. Climbing to the top of a mountain will bring a test of your physical strength, courage and mental capabilities. But, once you push through them you’ll be on top of the world; and I can tell you there is no other feeling quite like it.

Stay brave.


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