TEN years ago, Kara Williams followed her instinct to embark on a degree to become an archivist because when she spoke to people about the field, it was "quite tangible how excited I was".
Today, she was one of hundreds of students who graduated from Charles Sturt University's arts, education and science departments.
Ms Williams, however, stood out from her cohort.
Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Information Studies with distinction, she was also the winner of three prestigious awards in the field: the Australian Library and Information Association Student Award, Margaret Jennings Award and Sigrid McCausland Prize.
"I'm still overwhelmed and surprised by it," Ms Williams said.
"When the email arrived, I thought I actually owed the university money for something - that's how much of a shock it came to me."
While Ms Williams said she studied solely because archives management impassioned her, the most special prize was the last one as it honours the late Dr Sigrid McCausland.
Dr McCausland was an internationally renowned archival scholar who died at 63 from a rare form of abdominal cancer in 2016.
"I had Sigrid as a lecturer and friend when she felt ill during my studies, so this is to remember her," she said.
"I am particularly honoured to have received that award."
Ms Williams studied via distance to meet her travel needs as a Royal Australian Navy band member - a role she was in for 24 years.
She said the most challenging aspect was the isolation from academic peers.
"As a distance student, you really feel a lack of connection with the rest of your cohort," she said.
"You can't just ask a lecturer if you're unclear about something because there's that delay.
"Also being a defence member, trying to fit all that in was quite difficult."
However, she encouraged anyone thinking about further studies to "stick with it because you're going to go on a rollercoaster".
"There were times when I was in complete tears. I was exhausted and broken by the whole process," she said.
"But stick with it because when you get to the end, it's an incredible feeling."
Now, Ms Williams is in the process of moving to Wagga permanently after having secured a role at the university to work on a archival project.