“I am an enabling success story”: An autoethnographic narrative of an unskilled mother’s foray into academia

Katrina Johnston


This paper follows the story of a young woman transitioning from secondary school through a series of unskilled jobs and the impact this had on her self-belief. Through an unexpected enrolment in an enabling course, the opportunity for growth in both skills and confidence impacted on her self-awareness and developed her self-efficacy through the discovery that she could successfully accomplish higher education study. Her achievements in higher education led to a position whereby she realised that she had accomplished something far greater than ever anticipated: she was an academic. As an enabling educator who had walked the same path, she found herself in a strong position to help others on their journeys to success. This story is mine. I am an enabling success story. This paper argues that enabling courses change people’s lives, giving them hope for a better future. Enabling education takes students on a journey of self-discovery and self-awareness, building self-esteem and opening doors to vast opportunities. It further considers how a lecturer who herself comes from a low-socioeconomic background could go onto become a positive role model for enabling students from similar backgrounds.


enabling education; student success; transformative learning; autoethnography; low socio-economic background

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The title of this journal changed in 2021 from International Studies in Widening Participation to Access: Critical explorations of equity in higher education.

Banner image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), movement score 01 (detail): oil stick and acrylic on paper. Photograph by Kira Jovanovski. Cover image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), grunt_iteration 02 in the boughs and stamped: installation in University Gallery. Photograph by Jedidiah Cranfield. (c) the artist.





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