Upskilling in design

After 25 years of working as a self-employed graphic and web designer, 43-year-old mother of two, Penny Azzopardi, felt it was time to take her passion to the next level. We had a chat to Penny about her choice to study online and how she has balanced it all with other life commitments.


Studying design at a tertiary level

The design industry is full of creatives trying to make their mark, and what sets design professionals apart from the rest is a tertiary qualification.

Penny decided it was time to give potential clients added confidence in her abilities with the completion of a Bachelor of Design with a Major in Communication Design through Swinburne Online.

“Just because you have been in an industry for a while, does not mean you cannot learn new skills or a fresher way to approach existing ones,” Penny says. Living in Melbourne’s outer South East, balancing work, caring for her 83-year-old disabled father, and raising her children, meant that it was difficult for Penny to find a university option to fit in with her lifestyle.


Fortunately, I came across Swinburne Online. Being able to study my degree online was ideal; this meant I could study in the surroundings of my choice, at a time convenient to me and still felt a part of the team.

Overcoming life’s hurdles

Penny has worked hard throughout her degree producing creative work at a high standard, even earning herself an Academic Excellence Award. However, this has not come without experiencing some of life’s hurdles along the way.

“Since I began studying I’ve had to deal with surgeries, a car accident, a family member in a coma, and my builders going into liquidation while building our house!”

Life gave Penny a few lemons, yet she still managed to complete three units a teaching period. She even found time to give back to the Swinburne Online community by participating in the Student Mentor Program. Safe to say Penny has been one busy woman!

“All I could do was stay calm and stay focused. I am a firm believer in ‘don't tell me what you can't do, tell me what you can do’, so I focused on this which got me through. Studying was actually a relief as it was the only thing that was structured, a place where I knew what to expect. Life, on the other hand, is unknown,” she says.

Penny is set to graduate this year, taking a short break before exploring her options for a masters course. Yes, Penny wants to continue studying!