Sony Antony in his lounge room with his wife Asha and daughters Sairah and Serena.
Sony Antony in his lounge room with his wife Asha and daughters Sairah and Serena. USQ Photography

Nursing student uses daughter's rare condition as motivation

WHEN times get hard and assignment deadlines are looming, USQ student Sony Antony doesn't have to look far for motivation.

"My little daughter is my motivation. She is the bravest girl and she inspires me every day,” he said.

Mr Antony's five-year-old daughter Sairah was diagnosed at birth with VACTERL association, a rare disorder which affects multiple body systems.

She underwent her eighth operation last month.

Attending many of her hospital appointments and playing an active role in the care of her condition, Mr Antony said he was inspired to undertake study to become a nurse in order to support other families experiencing similar hardships.

"I want to make changes in the lives of kids and their families,” he said.

"My wife is a nurse as well and because we couldn't send Sairah to day care due to her condition, I started working as an Assistant in Nursing and progressed from there.”

Studying both on-campus at USQ Ipswich and online, the Sinnamon Park father-of-two said USQ's flexible study options and supportive university environment has allowed him to fit his study around his family life and work commitments.

"I was relieved when I found out I didn't have to spend five days a week on campus because I mainly study at the hospital and at home,” Mr Antony said.

"Our dining table has become a big study table. We all sit around it and study then move things to the side once we're ready to eat.

"Being able to study alongside my daughters is very rewarding and I'm able to set an example to them that you need to learn to be successful in life.”

Now in his second year of a Bachelor of Nursing, Mr Antony has contributed to a new online resource created by USQ to support studying parents in gaining a university qualification.

By sharing his story and advice, he hopes to inspire other parents to overcome the unique challenges of mixing family and study, and ultimately achieve their goals.

"Nothing will ever go as planned, but don't get scared - just jump into it,” he said.

The Studying Parent's Guide to Uni is a free eBook currently available for download at www.usq.edu.au/studying-parents.



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