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Krystal Sellars: Swapping a thinking cap for a beanie

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As mid-year approaches, one of my “hats” is a bit more frequently worn – my university student hat.

I returned to the University of Newcastle as a mature-aged student in 2021 – not quite a mid-life crisis but a “mid-career pivot” as one of my lecturers kindly puts it.

I’ve been slowly plodding away in the Bachelor of Climate Science and Adaptation program, and I’m about to finish my final two ‘first year’ courses this semester.

Best of luck to everyone at UON – I know this time of year can be hectic with assessments and exams. Go well… and look after yourselves.

Returning to university also meant dropping back to part-time work, and I was recently fortunate enough to be named as one of 16 recipients of Cessnock City Council’s Mayoral Scholarship program.

Thanks to the generous sponsors, this initiative has handed out 262 scholarships worth $2,500 each since it began in 2002.

I’m incredibly grateful and honoured to be chosen among the successful applicants.

A bio of each of the winners was read out at the ceremony, and I was amazed by the accomplishments of these (mostly young) people.

It made me feel really proud to be from Cessnock.

But, did you know a whole generation of people who can call themselves “Cessnock born-and-bred” has been lost?

It has been 21 years since Cessnock Hospital’s maternity ward closed.

In my previous job at The Cessnock Advertiser, I interviewed several women who had given birth on the side of the road, in the back of an ambulance, and even in the Cessnock Hospital car park because they couldn’t make it to Maitland in time.

So, I was disappointed to see a maternity ward has not been included in the concept design for the $111.5 million redevelopment of Cessnock Hospital.

In our rapidly-growing city that is expected to reach 112,000 residents by 2041, surely it is warranted.

I understand that it would need to be adequately staffed, and that this has always been a point of concern when reopening Cessnock’s maternity ward is raised.

In saying that, I sincerely hope that all of the new (and existing) services on offer at Cessnock Hospital will be adequately staffed.

Community feedback on the concept design is due by 14 June.

Make sure you have your say.

As winter rolls around, I’ll be donning a very special hat – the Mark Hughes Foundation Beanie for Brain Cancer.

I’ve bought a beanie most years since the campaign kicked off a decade ago, but having lost two people very close to me to brain cancer in the past year, the 2024 beanie will hold extra significance.

You can get your beanie from Lowes and selected IGA stores, and online at markhughesfoundation.com.au.

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