Victoria is a passionate primate and carnivore keeper at Halls Gap Zoo in Victoria who is studying her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. She lived in Malawi for a year working closely with a vet for the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre and chose her Open Colleges course to get those invaluable skills ‘on paper’ – and to open up more career prospects in the industry.
“I think education is the key to improving yourself,” she says. “There are so many people who want to work in the animal care industry. You really need that education.”
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never found the outlet to do it. Open Colleges has given me the opportunity to be able to have that certificate that’s interested me for so long.”
The flexible nature and ease with which Victoria was able to achieve her practical components drew her to the course. Living in a remote small town, she is able to easily interact with other students and seek support from course facilitators and veterinary professionals via the online study portal.
“It really helps you to find out that there are lots of other people who are at the same place as you,” she says. “If you’re having trouble with a question, there’s probably 30 other people that are too.”
While doing the practical components of her course, Victoria discovered how much she enjoys domestic care, an area where she had little previous experience. She laughs that she could tell you what kind of vaccinations to give a 12-year-old baboon, but no idea what to give a kitten. “I now know exactly what to use if my kitten has fleas” she smiles.
A highlight of studying online was being able to work on the course content in her own time, without compromising her full time career. “I work full time outside and it’s really hard work and sometimes when I get home, the last thing I want to do is study for a few hours,” she says, “but having a course that’s really exciting and really tailored towards what I’m interested in helps with that motivation and helps to you achieve what you want.”
Victoria is excited that the Certificate will empower her, providing her with the qualifications and networks she needs in an industry that is often about “who you know”. Her long term goal is to put her new-found skills into practice to be a better zookeeper and have the opportunity to experience other fields. “In five years’ time, I will definitely still be working with animals,” she says – and Africa is definitely on the horizon.
Watch Victoria in action in the video below.