Living in Europe and racing 50 days of the year has not put the brakes on professional cyclist Lauren Kitchen’s plans to complete a degree, from which she’ll graduate at UNE tomorrow.

The Port Macquarie local has studied most of her Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning from Europe where she has been based for 10 years, racing as part of a French team and for Australia in the world championships. She says the key to study success while racing has been careful planning.

“I would always find out when assignments were due and work backwards from that, and plan when to submit them based on when my races were. Being organised has been the biggest thing,” she says.

Her other important rule was to just keep going.

“I’ve found doing more units at once worked well for me, because I had to be more organised. Trimester 3 is the training off-season, so I found that was the time to get the most done, but just continuing to do something each trimester, even just one unit, was important. You do get through it eventually!

“I had a lot of support from UNE. It’s always been reliable and accessible. I could always get answers within a few hours through Ask UNE, and my professors have been really understanding.”

While not ready to give up cycling any time soon – she is focused on a busy racing season in Australia over summer and says selection for the Olympics is “the one thing driving me at the moment” – she’s also confident in a career beyond racing.

“I’m very proud to have completed my study, it’s good to know I have the option of doing something else I enjoy.

“I did work experience at a consultancy in Port Macquarie early in my degree and it was fantastic. Town planning gives you the ability to be really involved in the community, and every job is really different and has unique requirements.

“There’s a lot of project management and working with people across different specialties, so it’s really interesting.

“I can’t race professionally forever, but I’ll always be involved in cycling in some way. I’d like to be in a regional area and be part of the local cycle club coaching juniors, while having a career in town planning.

“I think it will be very rewarding to cycle past things around town thinking, ‘I was involved in creating that’!”