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Social worker graduate inspired by mum’s achievements

Media release

Rhiannon Coggin of Atwell always knew what she wanted to be – a social worker like her mum.

Sadly Rhiannon’s mum passed away from cancer when she was in her second year of study at Curtin University.

But Rhiannon said unexpected reminders of her mum’s achievements had kept her focussed.

“It has felt like mum has been keeping a watchful eye over me along the way. For my final clinical placement, by complete coincidence, I was placed at Armadale Hospital, where mum had worked as a social worker,” Rhiannon said.

“Each day I arrived for my placement, I walked passed a plaque which had been dedicated to my mum, which was a lovely reminder for me to do my best.

“Mum was a great inspiration to me. She was a fantastic social worker who was well-loved and respected by her colleagues. Now it’s my turn to make a difference.”

Rhiannon, 22, successfully combined her studies with caring for her four siblings and part-time work as a Recovery mental health worker. She also conquered her own battle with a brain tumour as a 16-year-old, through hard work and determination she was able to complete high school.

“Having a brain tumour at 16 was a huge life challenge for me, and I felt that after coming through that experience I wanted to share my knowledge of life, hope and grief with others,” she said.

“I felt that I had been given a second chance at life, and I wanted to give something back to the community. I knew that social work was a “helping profession” and that appealed to me.”

Next week she will join more than 1590 Health Sciences students taking part in a series of graduation ceremonies.

“I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to study social work because I now have an emotionally rewarding professional career ahead of me, but it has also enhanced my own personal growth,” Rhiannon said.

“When I first started studying social work in 2007, I was told you will never be the same person after studying social work. At the time I remember thinking “yeah yeah”.

“Now I’ve finished the degree, I completely agree. My studies have really opened my eyes to the wide diversity of human beings.”

The four yearfull-time Bachelor of Science (Social Work) course includes 980 hours of clinical practice, which has trained Rhiannon to work as a Social Worker in multiple settings. .

Dr Angela Barns, Head of Curtin’s School of Social Work said Rhiannon’s achievements were quite remarkable, given her family circumstances.

“Rhiannon has been a pleasure to teach. She has a hectic life juggling study, work and family commitments, yet is always willing to go that extra mile,” Dr Barns said.

“Rhiannon’s story shows that with determination and hard work, you can reach your goal. I wish her the best for her social work career.”


Kristy Jones, Public Relations, Curtin University
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