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CQUniversity Australia (CQU)

  • 27% international / 73% domestic

Scott Shirren

I truly didn't expect the sheer amount of things that I could study within the field of psychology.

I come from very humble beginnings. My childhood involved moving to various towns around Australia as my parents went from job to job. I was always a good student and although I was introverted, I always seemed to attract a small group of friends quickly. However, I was frequently the target of bullying and this required me to learn coping skills and how to build resilience in a time when "fight back" and "suck it up" was the advice given to boys at school.

Thankfully, I did well enough at high school to have my choice of courses at university. Initially, I chose engineering, but it wasn't a good fit for me and I changed to business. I enjoyed university immensely and it was a great source of pride to be the first of my extended family to graduate from university. My university also gave me the opportunity to give back to the community through tutoring high school students from schools in low socio-economic areas of Adelaide.

My interest in psychology stems from all those earlier experiences. It is the perfect field of study to indulge in analysing problems whilst also helping people through some very troubling times. The broad range of topics that can be studied in psychology means that I am always learning new things. The fact that nothing is really clear cut and that there is a mix of art and science in being a practitioner of psychology fits me very well.

My undergraduate degree was in business and I have worked as a property valuer for a number of years in both government and private industry. At the same time, I have been working my way through postgraduate courses in psychology. The combination of business and psychology has given me a unique insight into workplace issues such as staff engagement, staff development and strategic thinking.

I had a good idea of the broad areas that my psychology degree would cover, but I truly didn't expect the sheer amount of things that I could study within the field of psychology. My 4th-year research project was really eye-opening as I went in expecting to research something in the field of human perception but ended up leveraging my employment and studying human factors and ergonomics topic involving negative affect and the use of email. Even as I select the units I will study as part of my master degree this year, I find myself being drawn to topics like using therapy animals to manage trauma in clients.

Broadly, I want to help guide people to find solutions to their mental health issues. I am based in the country and there is a significant demand for psychologists who understand the issues that local people face. Hardship and loss are an unfortunate way of life for people in rural areas and suicide is a massive issue. I aim to work with people who have suffered trauma and work with them to put their lives back together.