A balancing act of full-time work and online study

Sai Lyons

Written by Hannah Wallace

When Master of Public Health student, Sai Lyons, was approaching the end of her Bachelor of Science degree in 2017, she felt as though she had only just scratched the surface of what there was to learn.

"I felt as though I was in a situation where the more you know, there’s more that you realise you don’t know," she says. "I wasn’t done learning yet and public health was an area that I found really interesting during my undergraduate studies."

To give herself a well-deserved break from a full-time study workload, Sai planned to take the next twelve months off, a gap year of sorts, gaining experience in full-time work.

"Six months in to working full-time, I felt a bit bored. I wanted to be doing more with my life and made the decision to go back to study earlier than I had planned."

So with her full-time job as Retail Manager at Questacon taking up her 9 to 5, Sai dedicated her evenings after work and her weekends to studying a Master of Public Health.

"The only way for me to fit in Masters with my full-time job was to study the program all online. I’m really enjoying it, and the more I’m studying online, the more online study options appeal to me for the future."

Even if Sai wasn’t currently working full-time, she believes she would still choose the online study option.

"It frees up a lot of time and have you much more freedom in how you can spend the hours of your day outside of work."

When asked what advice she would give to current undergraduate students considering postgraduate study, Sai explains that her Masters gives her the chance to focus on what she’s really interested in.

"The program structure is not constrained in the way that you can do something and be able to take it many places. I found my undergraduate studies quite broad and postgrad study for me has been an opportunity to hone in on something that really interests me."

"If you’re not sure about further study, I would say just give it a shot, give it a chance. I started my Masters knowing that if it wasn’t working for me, that I could change my mind. Obviously I didn’t, and I’m really glad I’ve continued with my studies at ANU."

Sai grew up in Canberra and found the decision to go to university here a no-brainer.

"I guess if you were coming from a small town then you would come to Canberra for a great university experience. I was lucky enough that I already lived somewhere with a top university."

"The Master of Public Health program at ANU really stood out to me as a front runner because I’d done my undergrad studies here and public health was an area I found really interesting in that time."

The flexibility of an online study program, the smaller cohort and increased communication between students and convenors means that Sai has taken greater responsibility for her academic success.

"I’m definitely more involved in communicating with my lecturers and convenors as opposed to when I was doing my undergrad. The class size is a lot smaller so the academic staff know who you are, and you feel more onus on yourself to do better."

Imagining her life following her Master degree, Sai breaks into a wide smile and laughs a little,

"I envision myself with this degree being able to go and work for the World Health Organisation, travelling and fighting disease overseas."

Find out more about the Master of Public Health and online study options.