STEPHANIE Bayley and Louese McConnell are destined to be friends for life.
If a friendship lasts longer than seven years, it will last a lifetime, according to sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.
After seven years as study buddies, the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) online students will graduate with Bachelors of Law in Maryborough on May 16.
“We’re just so excited that we’ve finished our degrees,” Louese said.
“Our studies aren’t finished yet though – we’ve both started our Post Graduate studies in preparation for admission, which will take at least another eight weeks to complete.”
Stephanie, a USQ employee, and Louese met during Orientation on their first day as first-year distance students.
“I was working when Louese asked for information. We exchanged email addresses and that’s how it started,” the USQ event coordinator said.
“It’s been awesome having the support of a close friend who was doing the same degree. I couldn’t have done it as well if I didn’t have someone with whom I could share the experience.
“Although there were stages when each of us felt like throwing it in. One would say ‘I can’t do it’ and the other would said ‘Yes, you can!’”
Louese of Hervey Bay agreed, adding: “We studied together at our homes and online, and spent a lot of time on the phone to each other. Before exams we’d meet at Steph’s house in Maryborough and have curry for lunch and lots of M&Ms while we studied.”
As well as having copious curry lunches over seven years, their children have also grown significantly.
“My youngest son Angus was only 16 months’ old when I started,” Louese said. “He was just a baby but I look at him now and am amazed at how many years have passed. My two boys are now so grown up.”
Stephanie said the opportunity to find a study buddy was available to all USQ students.
“It’s really easy to find like-minded people doing the same program as you.
“When you study online you can go onto Study Desk and see the names of other students in your area and send them messages, asking to either get together or join a study group.”
With their Undergraduate degrees complete and Post Graduate degrees underway, these study buddies are now looking to the future.
While Stephanie is yet to decide how she will use her degree, Louese’s career path is clear-cut.
“I’ll continue to work in family law at Lewis & McNamara Solicitors in Hervey Bay,” Louese said.
“My bosses encouraged me to begin studying and supported me through the whole degree.”
Stephanie said: “Because I have worked full-time while studying, I haven’t had a great deal of time to stop and think about how I want to use my degree.”
In May, the potential life-time friends will celebrate their graduation with dinner at a local restaurant.
“We’ve been meaning to dine out after the last five exams to celebrate but that’s never happened. The closest we got to a restaurant dinner was hot chips from a café, so on graduation day we’re going to celebrate in style.”
Photo: USQ study buddies Louese Mc Connell (left) and Stephanie Bayley look forward to graduating with Bachelors of Law.