Christine ‘Tea’ Lau studied hard in her final year of high school and was rewarded with quite a high ATAR. She loved maths and physics and imagined a future for herself as a civil engineer, so when she had an opportunity to study engineering in Sydney, Tea didn’t hesitate.
It wouldn’t be her first time moving cities. Although born in Brisbane, she had spent much of her early life moving back and forth between Hong Kong and Australia before finishing high school in Brisbane. Tea was ready to move to a new city for the degree she wanted, and for two years she gave it her best. But more and more, she felt that something was missing. “I realised it wasn’t really what I wanted to do,” she says. “I wasn’t passionate about it".
"It was a confusing time, and Tea felt quite lost." She says, “No matter how much I’d studied, it seemed like a waste. Even though my ATAR was good, and I got into a good university to do the degree I wanted, it all seemed like nothing now. I didn’t know what to do. Should I start looking for a job and give up on uni, or should I study something else?"
Tea wanted to prove she was on the right path
Without telling her parents what was on her mind, she took a one month break to think things over. Tea still had her love of maths and physics, but felt civil engineering was not for her. “I was scared my parents would be angry with me,” she says. “I wanted to prove to them that I was on the right path before I told them what I had done".
After weighing up her options, she started thinking about IT. “In some ways it was like engineering, and I thought I could give it a try,” she says. “The more I researched, it looked like UTS was the best place for an IT degree. But the deadline had already passed to apply and I didn’t want to waste any more time".
Finding another way
That’s when she started to look for another way, and found the Diploma of IT at UTS College. She says, “I’d never thought of a pathway course before. I never thought it was the sort of thing that could help me. Then I found out the diploma is the same as first year. If you do well, you can transfer to UTS with credit points. I could enrol right away and I wouldn’t be wasting any time. It was really like starting my degree. So, I decided ‘okay, that’s it. I’m going to UTS College no matter what."
Tea studied at UTS College for a whole semester before she told her parents. “I found out that IT was even better than I expected,” she says. “It’s not just sitting at a computer and coding. You learn to communicate with others, you draw diagrams, you learn about business requirements and how to help people improve their software. It’s interesting. I slowly found my passion.” That’s when she decided to tell her parents.
At first they were silent. “I was about to say, ‘Aren’t you mad at me for wasting my time?’ but they weren’t angry. They said they could see from the change in my face that I was happy. They said, ‘This is your life. It’s your decision. Whatever decision you make, we’ll support you.’ I was relieved and surprised.
Learning to see her potential again
Even though many IT subjects were new to her, Tea enjoyed her new course from the beginning. She says, “Compared to students who studied IT in high school, I didn’t have any background at all but the teachers helped me to catch up. It helped that the classes were smaller. The teachers and lecturers knew me and it was easier to ask for help. One thing I realised from all this is that ATAR doesn’t mean anything. You can have a high score or a low score, and you can still lose your way. What’s more important is finding your goal. That’s what will put you on the right pathway. UTS College taught me there’s always hope there. They helped me see my potential again."
After her Diploma of IT, Tea completed a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in February 2020. She now works full-time as a Support Analyst at Woolworths, a job she loves. “I’ve been there more than ten months, and I think without joining UTS College, I wouldn’t be there", she says. “Do I regret changing my path? No. I’m proud I made that decision. You have to believe in yourself."