University can be tough, but two members of the Trussler family are tackling it together

FAMILY STUDY: Mark and Rebecca Trussler are studying together at Warrnambool's Deakin University this year. Picture: Morgan Hancock
FAMILY STUDY: Mark and Rebecca Trussler are studying together at Warrnambool's Deakin University this year. Picture: Morgan Hancock

UNIVERSITY can be tough, but two members of the Trussler family are tackling it together.

In what might be a first for the Deakin University Warrnambool campus, father Mark Trussler and daughter Rebecca have enrolled in the same environmental science marine biology course.

Mr Trussler is in his second year, while Rebecca only began her studies three weeks ago, at the start of trimester one. 

They share the same classroom for chemistry, and say there is no father-daughter rivalry over results.

Instead, they are looking forward to helping each other.

Mr Trussler, 44, has been in Australia for about six years after moving from Suffolk in the United Kingdom.

He moved from Horsham to Koroit last year to study at Deakin with his wife and two younger children.

He had been a cabinetmaker for more than 20 years.

“I wanted to move away from the physical work and the dust that comes from working with wood in cabinetmaking,” he said.

Mr Trussler had planned to study architecture.

 But while doing a bridging course to help him get back into study mode and to deal with his dyslexia, an essay about the Great Barrier Reef opened his mind to the option of marine biology.

“I became interested in biology and it went on from there,” he said.

He said returning to study was tough, but support from his teachers had helped.

Mr Trussler has received the Frances O’Connor Award, which recognises great endeavour in environmental science studies at the campus.

He said studying alongside his daughter was working well.

“She has a bit more understanding about chemistry so I ask questions, and I’ve completed a year in Warrnambool and know a few things so hopefully it works both ways,” he said.

Rebecca, 19, moved to Australia last September to live with her father, partly prompted by her desire to change genders. 

Formerly known as Ross, she is hoping to begin gender reassignment later this year.

She said Australia’s laws were not as advanced as England’s but socially it was a lot more accepted. Rebecca is being supported by her father through the process and said the university had been very accepting.

“We’re in the same class for chemistry and it’s been fine so far,” Rebecca said.

“We don’t really share notes but it’s handy to discuss things we don’t quite understand.

“The lecturers are very helpful and because of the small class sizes you get great contact with them.”