Tanya Towell is not your average landscape architecture student.
"As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to work in TV or film,” she says. “I had this theory that even if the world went through another depression, people wouldn't stop watching TV.”
But after 20 successful years in the television industry, she found herself at a career crossroads.
"My priorities and life interests re-focused and changed,” she says. “I found myself halfway through my career, at that point where I had gone as far as I wanted to go, and was asking the question, what's next?”
It turns out it was Landscape Architecture.
"I thought about what I loved doing,” she says. “I have always been a passionate home gardener, traveller and lover of the great outdoors, and had just been designing and landscaping my garden at home, and I was enjoying that process. Then I started thinking, what if I could do this as a career?"
The front garden – the project that changed everything for Tanya.
She enrolled in a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at UNSW Built Environment due to the Faculty's reputation and the degree's Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) accreditation. She says the best aspect of the degree has been discovering a whole new profession.
"Learning is food for the soul, and I feel lucky to be able to undertake another degree later in life,” she says. “My classmates have been a wonderful support, and I have really enjoyed being part of our learning family."
Tanya says that the friendships she has made with her classmates will stay with her forever.
"No matter of age or race we were all in it together, and we all have formed a close bond. I will never forget the crazy late nights, but it was always good to know you weren't the only one going through it. I am going to be ecstatic to get my weekends back!"
The student says that paying off a mortgage while studying was one of the biggest challenges she had to overcome while studying.
"Quitting my job and studying full-time for four years was a big ask on the family,” she says. “I was lucky that I had long service leave, which I used for the first year to see if this was what I wanted to quit my job for. I knew pretty quickly that it was, and that the plants had won."
Tanya is organising the upcoming Landscape Architecture Graduation Exhibition, which is taking place on December 6 at the Coal Loader tunnels in Waverton. She says that working on such a significant event has been a great learning experience.
"It's a huge job, but we have a great team of students who have all been helping out,” she says. “It has been a fun experience, and we are thoroughly enjoying being able to make our own stamp on the event.”
Tanya's graduation project, Exhale, is a retail plaza design in Parramatta to mitigate urban heat.
Tanya has also been working at Environmental Partnership as a student landscape architect while studying.
"It has been a great experience, and I have learnt so much there,” she says. “It has been invaluable in understanding how the profession works in practice. I look forward to graduating and seeing what the future holds next.”
She says that she is proof that you're never too old to start again.
"When you are in your forties, it is no longer the tail end of your career – you are only halfway. There is time to make a change. Follow your gut instinct – it is always right."
The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Honours) teaches students to design and protect inspiring and resilient landscapes. Find out more about the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Honours) degree.
What: UNSW Landscape Architecture Graduation Exhibition
When: 06 Dec 2019 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Coal Loader Tunnels, 2 Balls Head Drive, Waverton NSW 2060
Register for the Graduation Exhibition.