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Rhonda Favaloro, Tutor (Botanical Art). Member since 2004

Rhonda’s story
I trained as a nurse at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney and worked for the majority of my career at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. But throughout my training and initial years in Melbourne I was constantly drawing children and people in various situations. On coming to Melbourne I studied oil painting before furthering my nursing career with post-graduate nursing and education studies. However, in 1992 while walking up to Melbourne University to re-enrol in a Doctorate of Education, it occurred to me that I would rather be painting – so instead, I spent the next four years drawing and discovering watercolours.
 
Frustrated by the lack of detail in landscape painting,  I was fortunate to hear Jenny Phillips (the world-renowned botanical artist and teacher based in Melbourne) talking on the radio about the importance of detail in botanical art. Joining her classes, botanical art became a passion and was a real bonus when in 2001, my nursing career came to an abrupt end with the resurfacing of an old injury.
 
Painting helped my sanity while struggling with chronic pain but eventually even that became a struggle. Once again fortune stepped in when I joined U3A Melbourne City and enrolled in Book Discussion and Shakespeare Revisited. It was wonderful to be part of a group investigating the issues that were raised both in the novels and through Shakespeare’s writings. I started to feel that I had a life again, a life that became even more productive once a peripheral nerve stimulator was inserted under my skin to control the pain and reduce my morphine intake.
 
As I experienced the excellent guidance of the tutors I became aware of the philosophy of giving that is the mainstay of U3A. So once I was thinking clearly again, it seemed important to give something back in the form of volunteering. In 2008 I assisted with course co-ordination for a year and commenced teaching Botanical Drawing and Watercolour. The following year a second botanical art group commenced.
 
I feel extremely fortunate to be involved with these two groups of painters. It is so rewarding to have experienced the development of these budding artists and to enjoy the laughter and learning that occurs every week. I can’t imagine my life without the pleasure that Mondays and Thursdays bring. Personally I am extremely satisfied with what I receive and what I am able to give in return to U3A.
 
Having been involved for a short period of time with the administrative and committee functions of U3A, I was able to appreciate the forward thinking of an amazing group of people who are the leaders of this voluntary organisation. Their foresight has seen amazing developments in the range of courses that are offered and the future directions of U3A. However, I know that expertise is always required. And therefore I would like to see a situation wherein all members are expected to contribute in one way or another to our organisation.
 
Rhonda Favaloro, August 2011