Chance elective leads to change in career

Naomi Sweasey has just begun her dream job.

The 20-year-old graduated this week from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Criminology.

It helped her secure a position as Case Manager for Queensland Community Corrective Services.

“It’s not an environment a lot of people immediately choose to be in,” Ms Sweasey said.

“But it’s a job where I can use my skills to help people who really need it.”

The role requires Ms Sweasey to manage a case load of clients on parole and performing community service.

“I check how they’re going, assess their needs, offer encouragement and refer them to intervention or support services if they need it,” she said.

“I’m good at talking to people and can empathise with them even if they’re in a situation I’ve never been in.”

Ms Sweasey had little experience of the correctional services sector before embarking on her degree, so in her second year began volunteering as a tutor at the Borallan Training and Correctional Centre, west of Brisbane.

“I spent six months helping inmates with their maths and English studies,” she said.

“I found it incredibly rewarding and knew it was somewhere I could see myself working.”

During her degree, Ms Sweasey also completed an optional firearms safety course at a rifle range.

“I’d never touched a gun before and went into it with preconceived ideas,” she said.

“The trainers helped me gain a healthy respect for firearms and the government policies around them.”

Ms Sweasey had initially embarked on her BA at UQ majoring in Psychology, but an elective subject in her first semester sparked a re-think.

“I found Introduction to Criminology absolutely enthralling,” she said.

“That subject was a complete eye-opener to a world, and potential career path I had no previous exposure to.”

She soon switched majors and never looked back.

“I was always told not to focus on a particular job description but to study what I found interesting,” she said.

“I’m so glad I took that advice and ended up really enjoying my degree.”

She also hasn’t ruled out postgraduate study.

“But I’m going to give myself a couple of years to get into my job, figure out what I want to specialise in and take it from there.”

Above left: Naomi Sweasey takes aim during a firearm safety course. Image: Supplied.

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