In 1952 at the tender age of six Cath Catanzariti travelled by boat with her mum to Australia, not knowing what the future held.
In 1960, Mrs Catanzariti finished her schooling aged 14 as education was not a priority, especially for young Italian women. “The boys weren’t interested and the girls weren’t encouraged,” she said.
Meeting not only the love of her life, but also her best friend, she married Joe Catanzariti in 1964, who empowered her to learn. “He always said ‘Cath believe in yourself you have more talent than you think’,” she said.
In, 1965 Mrs Catanzariti became a mother, continuing to be encouraged by her husband attending TAFE, which gave her a second chance at education – and it was one of her teachers who encouraged her to sit the HSC English paper. “We studied Othello, now I can talk about it with my grandson who is studying it,” she said.
“In the great hall of Griffith High School I sat with the HSC students of 1978 and sat the English paper, my knees still tremble when I think of the awesome experience.” In 1988 and her early 40s, she then started her certificate in childcare.
“At the end of 1989 I received my certificate Triple C-S early childhood studies, I felt as proud as if I received a PhD,” she said. “It was one certificate with my name on it and something I completed myself.”
A chance meeting with the then head of studies at the Waverley centre of early childhood, encouraged Mrs Catanzariti to further her studies and, in 1996, she graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood.
“I graduated with my beautiful husband next to me and it was just as exciting and happy as my wedding day, my cap and gown and sense of achievement, there are no words to describe it,” she said. After achieving her goal Mrs Catanzariti settled back into normality, only to receive a phone call in June 1996 from the principal of St Pats offering her an ESL teaching job where she has been for the last 22 years.