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My University Experience: BIZ102 Changed My Life – Nicole Jackson

One of the first subjects I took at Torrens University, was BIZ102: Understanding People and Organisations and it changed my life. I don’t think many people can say that about a subject they took at university, but I can. It wasn’t just the subject that changed my life, it was the lecturer. Her name was Jadranka Cook and she is without a doubt the best lecturer, teacher, educator I’ve ever had to this day.

Before attending University at Torrens, I was the first person to say school wasn’t my ‘thing’. I had a particularly bad time during high school, battling severe anxiety, mostly related to exams, assignments and the fear of failure, which for a long time left me believing I wasn’t smart and that university was going to be a daunting task and something that I felt I had to do rather than something I wanted to take part in. However, it only took my first couple of weeks attending classes at The Rocks campus in Sydney, for me to completely change that belief.

After attending my first three hour lecture for BIZ102, I was hooked. The content of the subject was right up my ally and the lecturer, Jadranka Cook, was a lively German woman who knew exactly how to engage a class. Not only that, she was passionate about learning and wanted to ensure everyone in the class understood the subject. So much so, that she set up a reward system for people who answered questions during class. The more questions you answered and the more you contributed to class discussions, the more post-it notes you collected and eventually once you had accumulated a certain number of post-it notes, it allowed you to have a one day’s extension on an assessment. This stimulated engaging class discussions every single week. It was genius.

However, her engaging teaching strategies, weren’t what struck a chord with me. It was a conversation she had with the group of girls I had grown accustomed to sitting with every week and whom Jadranka had nick-named “the dream team”, as well as, another conversation I had with her in private, that left a lasting impact on me.

Within the first three weeks of class, me and “the dream team” felt we had become just as passionate about the subject content as our lecturer and we had been collecting plenty of post-it notes to prove it. Though, when it came to our first assessment, which involved writing a reflective journal on our emotional intelligence quiz results, we were struggling to truly understand how to get the high distinction marks we were aiming for. We really wanted to succeed, so when it came to handing in our first drafts and having Jadranka look over them, we were a bit disheartened when she told most of us at the table it wasn’t our best work, and that she felt we could do better. While going around to the rest of the class and checking their drafts our table had a group discussion about what we had written and it seemed we had all taken a similar angle. After noticing we were still confused, Jadranka came back to our table and had a deeper discussion about what she was asking of us, making it clear that she wanted us to dig deeper and be more vulnerable in our writing.

Feeling better about what I needed to do, but unsure of how I was going to tackle it, I could feel my insecurities about school work slowly creeping in and threatening to set me up for failure. But then, as I was packing up, Jadranka stopped me, likely reading the worry on my face and she said something to me that no one had ever said to me in my life. She said “Nicole, you are a high distinction student. The way you engage in class and answer all of my questions, I can already tell that you are capable of producing high distinction work. Don’t let your worry and fear hold you back”. It was three simple sentences and possibly an interaction she wouldn’t have thought much of, but it happened to be exactly what I had needed to hear for my entire education. Not only did everyone on “the dream team” table receive high distinctions for their first assessment, but I went on to received my first ever 99/100 for the entire subject. I had never been so proud of myself and grateful to Jadranka for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

Since then, I have adapted to online classes and have found every lecturer extremely helpful and I can honestly say I have taken something away from their subject, whether it be interesting stories and tips they have from their personal experiences in their career or strategies to tackle assessments. I love that I always feel like I’m learning something that I will use in the ‘real world’ and now I am proud to tell people that I go to Torrens University and that school is my ‘thing’.

Through a combination of engaging subject content, an educator who could not have cared more about her students and a few sentences that generated a sense of belief in my abilities, I have gone on to achieve high distinctions in almost every class I have taken at Torrens and I can honestly say that BIZ102 changed my life.

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