A decade of dedication to become a doctor

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Ten years later, Penny Bailey can attach the honorific Dr to her name.

Ten years ago, University of Queensland PhD student Penny Bailey had no idea it would take her a decade before she could attach the honorific Dr to her name.

Starting her PhD in Japanese Studies and Art History in 2004, the road to graduation has been a long one for Ms Bailey, and the birth of her daughter, Ruby, in 2006 was just the first interruption to her candidature.

As joyous as Ruby’s birth was, Ms Bailey also had to deal with the tragic death of her father, Ric, a serious bout of pneumonia just weeks before submitting her thesis and a demanding teaching role.

“I don’t think any candidature is without its hurdles – life goes on despite the best laid study plans,” Ms Bailey said.

“It was a long journey but, ultimately, I think it was a worthwhile one.

“It is enormously satisfying looking back on how much I have learned.”

Ms Bailey’s principal advisor Associate Professor Tomoko Aoyama said it was great to see Penny finish her project and graduate after her hard work and the challenges she had overcome.

“This is a victory of Penny's will and determination, motivated by her passion for the beauty of Korean pottery and her intellectual curiosity,” Dr Aoyama said.

“What a long way she has come and what an incredibly wide range of skills and knowledge she has achieved. It has been a pleasure to help her develop this interdisciplinary and intercultural model work.”

In 2009, Ms Bailey’s father fell ill, which led to her taking extended breaks in her studies as she helped care for him until his death a year later.

“I was very fortunate that the university provides for students like me who require unexpected breaks in their studies,” she said.

Just after her confirmation, Ms Bailey found out she was pregnant, and after she had Ruby, took two years off before coming back to study part-time in 2008.

She said the incredible support she received from the university throughout her candidature was one of the main reasons she was finally able to graduate 10 years after starting her PhD.

“I discovered very quickly that a PhD is by no means a solo undertaking. I would never have finished it without the support of my family, friends, and my advisory team –Tomoko, Dr Sally Butler and Dr Isaac Lee – who were with me every step of the way,” she said.

Throughout most of her studies, Ms Bailey also worked in UQ’s School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies, teaching Japanese-to-English translation in the Masters in Japanese Interpretation and Translation (MAJIT) program, and various undergraduate courses dealing with different aspects of Asian culture and art history.

“Teaching at UQ was a fantastic platform to consolidate the skills I learned as a translator while living in Tokyo in the 1990s,” she said.

“It also provided me with the opportunity to interact with a variety of students from different educational and cultural backgrounds.”

Ms Bailey also completed her undergraduate programs at The University of Queensland, with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in 2003 and a Bachelor of Economics in 1992.

This year marks 101 years of graduates at UQ, since the first degrees were awarded in 1913.

Queensland’s largest university has graduated more than 210,000 students, and has a proud cohort of alumni who have gone on to make their mark in more than 150 countries.

MEDIA: Penny Bailey 0438 710 483, p.bailey1@uq.edu.au, pennybailey@iinet.net.au. Kristen Johnston (T) 07 3346 1633 or (E) k.johnston@uq.edu.au.

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