Southern Telegraph - - NEWS -

A hus­band and wife from Shoal­wa­ter have twice as many rea­sons to cel­e­brate af­ter join­ing more than 2000 grad­u­ates at Edith Cowan Univer­sity grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies this month.

Evan and Rezia Neal have both re­ceived Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence ( Nurs­ing) de­grees af­ter a four- year jour­ney, sparked by a ca­reer change and a trip across the coun­try. he cou­ple were liv­ing in Cairns four years ago when Evan’s work as a welder started to wind down.

“My wife Rezia was work­ing as an en­rolled nurse so she in­spired me to re­train as a carer in aged care and dis­abil­ity,” Mr Neal said.

A snap de­ci­sion to house- sit in Perth for six months could have de­railed his plan but un­de­terred, he en­rolled at ECU within weeks of ar­riv­ing in the city.

“The plan was for me to study while Rezia worked as an en­rolled nurse but af­ter about 12 months she de­cided to join me at ECU to be­come a reg­is­tered nurse,” Mr Neal said.

With a young son, full- time study and fi­nan­cial con­straints, the jour­ney has been far from easy for the cou­ple.

“Bal­anc­ing our study, fam­ily and work com­mit­ments all on a very tight in­come has been very dif­fi­cult,” Mr Neal said.

For Ms Neal, try­ing to fit in clin­i­cal place­ments around each other’s al­ready packed sched­ule was a chal­lenge.

“The place­ments were hard but they were made much eas­ier by ECU’s clin­i­cal place­ment team, who put us in dif­fer­ent ro­ta­tions so some­one was home for our son, Tajh,” she said.

De­spite the chal­lenges, the cou­ple looked to each other for sup­port.

“For me, the best part of this jour­ney was that we could sup­port each other when­ever we ex­pe­ri­enced dif­fi­culty dur­ing study or ex­ams or clin­i­cal place­ments,” Ms Neal said.

Since com­plet­ing her stud­ies, she has se­cured a job in aged care and hopes to spe­cialise in re­nal dial­y­sis be­fore even­tu­ally be­com­ing a nurse ed­u­ca­tor. Mr Neal plans to build his ex­pe­ri­ence in lo­cal aged care fa­cil­i­ties be­fore hope­fully work­ing in re­gional and re­mote in­dige­nous aged care.

The cou­ple hope to travel more, par­tic­u­larly to re­gional and re­mote Aus­tralia where their skills will be in de­mand.

Evan and Rezia Neal.

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