A GOLD Coast mother-of-two will be part of the first student cohort to participate in a Southern Cross University graduation ceremony on the Tweed-Gold Coast on Saturday.
The ceremony, which will be held at the Twin Town Services Club, is the first for the University since it started expanding into the southern Gold Coast.
Previously, students had travelled to Lismore for graduation.
Toni Russo, who will be awarded a Bachelor of Social Science, has completed her studies while caring for two children and a partner who was diagnosed with cancer as she started her degree.
"It's very exciting to be graduating," she said.
"When I finished my last assessment last year I cried and then we had a big celebration with family," she said.
"It is very satisfying after all the study and stress.
"When I first started studying at Uni I was so scared because I had been out of education for so long.
"Some of the kids studying with me were only 17 and they were going to have their degrees by the time they were 21.
"But finishing my social science degree has been my foremost goal and now that I've achieved that I am going on to further study.
"I have started a Bachelor of Laws with SCU and hope to go on a do a Masters and maybe a PhD.
"I've found I've become very good at time management with study, two young children and a partner who had cancer.
"He's in remission now."
The 36-year-old Ms Rossi worked for a decade in the hospitality industry before deciding to take small steps back into higher education study by completing a Diploma of Community Welfare Work through TAFE at Ashmore.
"I found SCU was just very flexible with how I wanted to study," she said.
"I received some credits from my Diploma and could fast-track my study with the three sessions of study."
After further study, Ms Russo hopes to work towards her dream job of working in the United Nations on human rights and gender rights issues.
She will be one of about 120 students at the Graduation ceremony at the Twin Towns Services Club (Showroom), Wharf Street, Tweed Heads on Saturday.
The ceremony commences at 10.30am.
Students will graduate from across five academic schools: Southern Cross Business School, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Arts and Social Sciences, Health and Human Sciences and Law and Justice