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Student Story: Annette Thornton

Annette Thornton started studying at Mary Andrews College in February 2021 with the aim and hope of better equipping herself in both her own personal faith and ministries that she serves and works in.

Annette had not studied academically for over thirty years and was initially feeling a little apprehensive about beginning her studies. But MAC is an ideal place to study for those who are out of practice.

In the January of each year, MAC offer short courses to prepare students for the study year ahead – beginning at orientation, courses run called ‘Return to learn’ and ‘Study skills’. Annette reflected, “These courses were great because I had not yet studied in the tech era, and also allowed me to properly prepare to manage the many demands of competing expectations as a married woman.”

Annette isn’t from Sydney, which means a two-hour train trip to campus, but in Annette’s words, “I couldn’t believe how possible and doable it all is! I love going into MAC and being part of the whole experience, with the team of staff, in the classrooms, in the kitchen to have coffee, in the library, and super close to the train station with no stress about car parking.”

But Annette’s train trips into the city unfortunately weren’t going to last for long. When the lockdown was announced in July for Greater Sydney and the surrounding areas, MAC swiftly transitioned to solely online mode for the second time in two years. Thankfully MAC was and is prepared for all challenges, whether it’s a global pandemic, or changing life circumstances for students.

When students come to study at MAC, they can select to study each of their units as ‘in-person’ or ‘online.’ The MAC timetable shows the days and times of all the classes for each unit. Our in-person students join us on campus in the Sydney CBD, while our online students join live classes via Zoom. Each class has a dedicated Zoom host who welcomes students into class each week 15 minutes early, giving everyone the chance to catch up for a chat with peers before class begins, just like would happen in the classroom.

Annette highly valued the online option during the lockdown, but even more than that, she was thankful for the hybrid study option as broke her arm in an unfortunate bicycle accident.

“I couldn’t type or study, and I was just so tired a lot of the time. But the team at MAC were tremendous in understanding, adjusting, and offering enormous support to those who needed it, me included, especially with a disability plan. I thought with Zoom that I wouldn’t be able to interact and be relational with the lecturers and students, but it is very possible! Chat functions, phone numbers, e-platform communication, connection with those in my area, book clubs, etc… It’s terrific! I’ve got some lifelong friends already! Some of the Sydney girls are even coming to stay down here with us.”

The actual workload and format of studying at MAC is flexible and adjustable according to the needs and wants of MAC students. Annette especially appreciates that there are no exams, only assessments and presentations, many of which are creative and designed to be applied to the specific ministry context of the student. Annette is particularly passionate about ministering to the elderly as she also works in the Community Rehab sector, so she loves that she can apply her studies to her work.

Annette’s enthusiasm about studying, and especially at MAC is founded in the core belief and understanding that our Australian culture needs Jesus more than ever. She says, “There are tougher times coming for Christians, so we need deeper foundations. We need to get our roots deeper into God’s Word to prepare. We need to be equipped. Whatever your stage as a Christian, whatever your need or want, MAC is for you. I can wear the storms more in life because I’ve been studying at MAC.”

As many of us consider what God has planned for us in this next season, Annette has a challenge for you. “If you’ve never thought of studying, I want to encourage you to consider studying in this season, and if you are thinking of studying, let me encourage you to get in touch with Mary Andrews College because they really equip you for life and for ministry. Go to an orientation session, ask questions, get connected. MAC’s the one.”

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