Uni study begins at 60 for M'boro grandmother

Marilyn (Lyn) Smythe of Maryborough looks forward to learning more about Australian politics while studying at USQ next year.
Marilyn (Lyn) Smythe of Maryborough looks forward to learning more about Australian politics while studying at USQ next year. Photographer: Jocelyn Watts

STARTING university and embarking on a new career at 60 years of age isn't fazing Marilyn (Lyn) Smythe of Maryborough.

Having just completed the Tertiary Preparation Program at USQHub@Maryborough, the massage therapist is excited about her expected acceptance into a University of Southern Queensland undergraduate program next year.

"As my stepson said when told I was going to university: 'life begins at 60'," she said.

While waiting for the results of her final TPP exam to be released, Ms Smythe has been perusing the courses involved in the USQ program of her choice - Bachelor of Arts majoring in history and Australian studies.

"The courses are all really interesting," Ms Smythe said.

"I can't wait to get started."

The grandmother of two young girls said although she was a qualified massage therapist and had run her own business for the past 12 years, she did not have degree-level education.

"I left school on my 15th birthday, in my third year of high school which today is equivalent to Year 9," Ms Smythe said.

"Over the years I've been very lucky in securing really good jobs.

"Spending four years in the navy led to other defence-related administration jobs".

"In 1998, I felt it was time to leave Sydney and as my family was now in Queensland, I moved to the Sunshine Coast.

"Because of the difficulty in securing an office job, when an opportunity arose for me to enrol in a massage course at Nambour TAFE I took that opportunity.

"After moving to Maryborough in 2003, I opened a remedial massage clinic with my partner, which I continued until starting TPP at USQ in July."

"Because of physical strains of doing massages, most therapists remain in the business for only four or five years.

"I was in business for 12 years and was really starting to feel the effects.

"I'm interested in doing research either in the political realm or for books and documentaries.

"Being able to work from home would be ideal.

"My USQ studies will be mostly external and I'll be able to use the university's facilities in Maryborough and Hervey Bay."

She urged anyone thinking about applying for university to give it a go.

For those who haven't studied for some time, Ms Smythe recommended enrolling in TPP first to get a feel for university without committing too far ahead. 

"You don't know what you can do until you take that first step," she said.

"And you'll get so much support from the lecturers and other staff at USQ.

"The TPP course doesn't cost anything.

"If you need a change in career, just give it a go.

"I thoroughly enjoyed doing TPP."

USQ Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas said almost 50 course enrolments in TPP and Head Start with a 90% retention rate had been achieved at USQHub@Maryborough since it opened in July.

"More than 30 students enrolled in USQ programs living in the Maryborough region are also accessing the Hub services," she said.

For more information on what's available at USQHub@Maryborough, visit

Topics:  fraser coast campus hervey bay student university of southern queensland usq

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