New Year, New Faces at CUC Ovens Murray

17 Feb 2022

Ready to learn? We’re ready to help! 
Meet our new team members here to support your study journey in 2022.



Courtney O’Brien – Education Coordinator, Mansfield

After initially working as a nurse, Courtney returned to university to study Communications – partly online – while working full time, so she knows exactly what it’s like to juggle work and remote study commitments.

“I’m looking forward to being able to help students achieve what they want to achieve. I know from personal experience you can get halfway through a uni course and you think ‘I don’t know if I can keep going’ but all you need is some support and encouragement.”

Courtney hopes that people who thought university was out of reach will reconsider because of the support of CUC Ovens Murray.

“We’ve seen in the last couple of years what’s possible online, and studying by distance is no different. CUC aims to make this even easier by giving local university students the opportunity to access a wide range of support and guidance in a university-like environment.”“It’s important for people to be able to stay and study locally, both for the students individually and for the community, because it means valuable skills and knowledge are retained and remain within the region.”

When she’s not helping Mansfield students settle into study, nature-loving Courtney is out hiking, kayaking, swimming and snowboarding in the high country.


Naomi Laidlaw – Centre Administrator, Wangaratta

In 2019, Naomi left Sydney seeking a change of pace and a different lifestyle for her children. The family now calls Beechworth home, and the experience has opened Naomi’s eyes to the inequality between city and country when it comes to higher education.

“There’s a lot more opportunity and so much choice in the city. Regional people really don’t have that, so when I looked at the CUC concept I was really impressed with it.”

With a background as an executive assistant with event management experience, Naomi is excited to promote our Wangaratta site and the support and facilities it offers – especially for people who don’t want to relocate for uni.

“My own children will soon be faced with the decision of what happens beyond Year 12 and whether they are willing to venture to a big city for uni or not go at all. Having the CUC gives people the option to stay local and study if that’s what they’d prefer to do.”

Naomi sees enormous value in helping people study where they live.

“This initiative to allow local kids to remain in their regional towns resonated with me – (especially) that comment that when they can study local they tend to stay local. And to be able to retain good quality people in the regions is really beneficial.”

Naomi loves the North East Victorian landscape and lifestyle, and in her downtime she enjoys being able to step back and appreciate the amazing country around her, and the slower pace of life.


Sophie Greenhill – Education Coordinator, Corryong

Sophie is Upper Murray born and bred, and passionate about helping her community “grow our own”. After finishing school, Sophie moved away from home to study speech pathology but, after two and a half years, she decided it wasn’t for her and returned home.

“People who were doing the same course as me and living at home, they probably left school and had a weekend job they continued on with, lived at home, got to study during the week so essentially their lives didn’t change. Whereas mine was turned upside down.”

Sophie is now studying a Bachelor of Primary Education by distance through Curtin University and, after experiencing ups and downs in her own university journey, she can’t wait to help smooth the path for other locals embarking on a degree.

“Just because you live somewhere like Corryong, it shouldn’t limit your opportunities. When I left school there were people in my immediate friendship group who said “I want to go and do this or do that” and took a gap year, worked at home and then started making money and got comfortable in their hometown – because you had to move away to finish those dreams. So having something here provides that link for people to pursue those study dreams without having to leave.”

As well as coordinating our Corryong site’s day to day activities, Sophie is looking forward to using its facilities to support her own study.

“Studying remotely is hard. I know I can’t study at home! Just knowing that space is there if you need it is really good, rather than being stuck at home to study.”

When she’s not working or studying, you’ll find Sophie camping and exploring the outdoors, or spending time with her ‘fur baby’ – a sausage dog named Nahla.



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