Tuesday 28th June 2022

Women of Courage Series. #69 Bianca Hewes. 104/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #69 Bianca Hewes. 104/2021.

Two years ago… I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday into September 2021 when it will conclude.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda


Thanks to the world of school education being big as well as small in New South Wales, where I used to be employed, I am fortunate to say I have met Bianca Hewes, who is 41 on a couple of occasions at Teach Meets! In fact, one of them was in August 2015, held at where “I” attended high school in the 1960s, and also where Bianca did….much, much later!  She, was at the time of meeting, working locally at a selective High School and introducing new and exciting subjects, along with her philosophy of education I found very refreshing. She and her husband impress me greatly and education is richer for their presence. But today, it’s Bianca’s story, and I am delighted to share because saying “yes” was not initially Bianca’s response! Thank you, B.




What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?


I find this question very hard to answer, as I’ve never really viewed myself as a courageous person.

In fact, since I have anxiety (the diagnosed sort stemming from childhood trauma, not the trendy kind) I’d say that I’m almost the opposite of courageous.

But, after some prompting from Denyse and a bit of reflection, I think something that could be classified by others as being courageous was my decision to continue with my university studies whilst I had a newborn son.

Luckily he was born in mid-semester break so I had a few weeks to give birth and learn how to be a mum before I strapped him to my chest and headed back into the lecture hall.


How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.


I suppose it just made me more determined to work hard and prove everyone wrong.

I got used to people staring at me on the bus and around campus – even though I was 21 I looked like I was 15 – and this defiance of judgement is something I have cultivated as a key personality trait and a value I’ve passed onto my sons.

I learnt quickly to stand up for myself when I needed to and to assert my rights as a woman and a mother. It also made me realise that I can do anything I want to – which sounds really cliche but has proven (mostly) true.


Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?


I think the biggest thing is to not listen to the negative opinions of others and to embrace those who support and celebrate you for who you are and the decisions you make.

I remember that second semester with my tiny two week old son I was doing two philosophy courses.

One lecturer was so supportive of me, but the other came up to me after class once and told me he didn’t agree with me being at university with a child.

It hurt being confronted that way, but I knew my rights and I stood my ground.


Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?


Like I said at the start, I don’t think I’m a particularly courageous person, but having my children when I was also studying and then later working meant that I developed resilience and determination.

I definitely draw on both of those qualities a lot in life.


Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?


Just don’t listen to society.

Be true to yourself.

Trust your own judgement and your own capacity.

I knew I could care for a baby whilst completing my studies even if other people lacked faith in me – and I was right.

So, I suppose just trusting yourself and enjoy proving others wrong is my message.


Thank you Bianca, I “knew” you would share a great story of courage and that it would help others to see what can be done despite the ‘judgements’ of some. How awful was that comment from a Uni so-called professional!

Bianca has some social media sites where she shares about education and more.

She has written and co-authored many texts and other books for teachers and schools.




Social Media:

Blog/Website biancahewes.wordpress.com

Twitter @biancah80

Facebook Page:  Australian Project Based Learning Network

Instagram: @jimmy_reads_books

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.



  1. Good for her for finding a way to continue her studies while also taking care of her baby!

  2. Very interesting post, Denyse. I love to hear other women’s stories. My mom did the same thing, but when we were older. It was even harder, I think. Every time she sat down to study, her two teenagers suddenly wanted to talk and NEEDED her attention. My very brilliant mom ended up with Cs in her classes, but she gave us her full attention when we needed it, worked full time and took a full course load. It makes a woman’s children proud and more interesting, when their mother puts out the effort to improve her life and theirs. Thanks again, Denyse.

    • That’s a lovely story about your Mum Marsha, thank you for sharing.

      I went back to study (by distance education) and teaching full time with a 5yo and 12 yo & very supportive husband. I admit I went for Passing..not the credits and distinctions that others might aim for. The degrees were the same and I felt I could manage the major family and work responsibilities better that way. We woman are good!!

      Bianca’s story is a good one for people to remember…don’t judge too swiftly I say.

      Thanks Marsha,


  3. Great words of advice from Bianca, and I don’t think anyone ever thinks they are being courageous at the time. Thanks for another great woman of courage Denyse. My sister did a similar thing and has gone on to be a true academic, it shows it can happen! I respect Bianca’s copurage all the more so!

    • You are right Debbie. It’s a bit like what some of us were saying to another friend who blogs, if we wait for the motivation we might never get anything done.

      Interesting to hear about your sister’s experience too. Good on her.

      To all of us who study and complete degrees as parents!! Well-done.

      Thank you.


  4. I agree with Bianca’s message and have been living my life my way. Good for her to persevere and succeed. I did my second post-secondary degree when I was working full-time. It was hard. I graduated with distinction. Thank you Denyse for your #weekendcoffeeshare.

  5. I love any story where someone takes on a huge chalange and comes out a winner.
    Bravo Bianca!

  6. It is good to listen to your heart and gut. It is great that you were able to complete your education even with babies in tow.