JEFF Williams went back to study at the age of 51.
The Wodonga man moved to Melbourne in 2015 to study Paramedicine full-time, away from his wife and two grown children happily settled on the Border.
With a background in the Australian Army and construction jobs, Mr Williams felt the time was right to change career paths.
“When I first joined the Army I considered Paramedicine but as the story goes, life gets in the way,” he said.
“Then one day I was crawling through a ceiling cavity and nearly passing out from the heat, thinking ‘This is silly, I’m 50 years old’.”
Having struggled at high school and leaving after Year 10, Mr Williams said tertiary study was a huge adjustment for him at Victoria University – St Albans campus.
“It was horribly hard,” Mr Williams said.
“I worked 60 to 80 hours a week because I didn’t know how to study; I’d be standing out the front of the library when it opened in the morning and the security guard would be kicking me out at the end of the day.
“I wanted to be the best paramedic I could be, not just tick the boxes.”
During his final year of study at St Albans in 2017, Mr Williams’ family lost four loved ones.
His Dad passed away the day before his mid-year exams, later his sister and a close mate.
“The last term was a tough term,” he said.
“I got pneumonia, which the class loved because I became a training aid!”
When Mr Williams graduated with a Bachelor of Paramedicine, he got a standing ovation from his whole class.
To top it off, he was awarded the Most Outstanding Final Year Student in Paramedicine recently.
“For me, it’s been life-changing,” he said.
“Going to uni has allowed me to forge new relationships with a broad spectrum of people at St Albans.
“I have forged new friendships with people from all walks of life and cultures and ages.”
Mr Williams’ wife Sharon, Baxters Concrete administration officer, praised his efforts.
“I think it is a remarkable journey,” she said.
Mr Williams said a SARRAH (Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health) Scholarship helped him return to study.
Living back in Wodonga and working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service ground crew, Mr Williams will still need to do a year-long Paramedic internship.
He has applied to the Queensland Ambulance Service because there were no vacancies in Victoria.
“For now I’m in patient transport with the Royal Flying Doctor Service; I’m still going up and down the highway to Melbourne!”