Meet the University of Melbourne’s first online graduate, Christie Cline

Completing a master’s degree while raising an 18-month-old may sound like an impossible task, but for Christie Cline it was a challenge that she relished. The Perth resident became the first graduate from the University of Melbourne’s online suite of graduate courses, gaining a Master of Evaluation.

Cline says the 100% online study option gave her “the flexibility to juggle parenting and other commitments” while successfully completing her training.

The economics statistician arrived in Australia just over five years ago from Sierra Leone and it was her passion for community development that led her to study. Through her evaluation qualification she now has the “potential to change the world” – which is what the Evaluation program prepares graduates for according Professor Janet Clinton, Director of the Centre for Program Evaluation, at the University of Melbourne.

Cline is now qualified to design and manage sound program evaluations across a range of areas from health and education to development. She’s in a position that could see her shape the future for individuals, communities, and organisations and improve outcomes for people in need.

Christie Cline and family
Christie Cline and family

For Cline one of the ideal aspects of her virtual education was the diversity of online learners – made up of 65% interstate and overseas students. She says she received a confidence boost from her fellow students.

“There was such a range of experience amongst students, and I was amazed at the technology. I could interact with everyone, and learning from them and their real-world experience made me feel ready to start my new career path.”

The freedom of studying online also meant Cline could devote time to volunteering as an evaluation consultant.

“I travelled 90km twice a week to volunteer and I could fit my study around my life. That means I’m graduating with career-ready skills,” explains Cline.

The future looks bright for Cline. She now hopes to put her skills to use in international community development, and hasn’t ruled out a PhD., where she hopes to investigate the relationship between evaluation and good governance.

Christie Cline with University of Melbourne Provost, Professor Margaret Sheil
Christie Cline with University of Melbourne Provost, Professor Margaret Sheil

Cline’s graduation was a significant milestone for the University of Melbourne. Provost Professor Margaret Sheil says, “We’re immensely proud of Christie and look forward to many more students joining her in becoming members of our alumni community through our online programs.”

Professor Sheil says, “The quality of academics available at the University of Melbourne is exceptional and our students, both on campus and online, benefit tremendously from being able to access and engage with them.