I’m Veronica Muraguri and I’m an international student at Torrens. Before I came to Australia, I had been working in Nairobi, Kenya, marketing pharmaceuticals to doctors for 14 years. I realised that the majority of the diseases that many populations suffer from are preventable – if people have the knowledge.
But health information and education is not common knowledge. I saw the psychological, physical and financial strain that the patients, their families and friends went through in the process of seeking treatment, and the challenges the Government and other institutions face to offer healthcare services to populations that are overwhelmed by disease. That’s what made me decide to make a career change into health promotion and disease prevention, and to study Bachelor of Applied Public Health at Torrens. I’ve learnt so much at Torrens – and not only about Public Health. Here are four highlights.
1. Learning the right things from the right people matters
I think a lot of advocacy has to be done in places like Kenya so that governments take their role in disease prevention and health promotion seriously – and that means more of us need to meaningfully engage with the Government. We need the relevant education to do that successfully, and that is why I am studying for a degree in Public Health.
The lecturers at Torrens have been amazing at helping me get the education I need. I initially found the subject on epidemiology very challenging and hard to understand, but Dr Melinda Stanners delivered it so well and really helped me to grasp the formulas. She also walked with me and helped me build my confidence around my studies. I got my first distinction! After that, I was really motivated and my performance improved greatly. Dr Katherine Faull has also played a big role in my student life, and was pivotal during my industry placement and my capstone, helping me to identify and bring out my strengths – so much so that I feel like a different person now. I feel like I can do anything that I put my mind to.
2. Taking the risk is worth it
It was very daunting to make a decision to change careers, quit employment and go back to studying, especially because I am not young. More importantly, it was scary to move from my country to Australia for my studies, leaving my family and friends behind and venturing into unfamiliar territory. It was difficult to convince my children and family about my decision as it meant adjusting our finances and way of life to accommodate the change.
The experience of studying at Torrens has taught me that age should never be a barrier. I have actually performed way better than I did in my younger years and enjoyed my studies more, probably because I know my reasons and purpose for studying this particular course. I have also enjoyed studying with students of varying ages and from different cultural backgrounds, which has given me different perspectives and outlooks. My skills have improved tremendously and I feel equipped and ready for my new career path.
“The experience of studying at Torrens has taught me that age should never be a barrier. I have actually performed way better than I did in my younger years and enjoyed my studies more, probably because I know my reasons and purpose for studying this particular course.”
3. Learning can happen in lots of ways
I study both on campus and online. I enjoy the on-campus mode of learning as I get to engage with my lecturers and other students face-to-face and that makes it easier to get the support that I need. However, I also love the online classes as they give me the flexibility to do them in my own time. I’ve also had the chance to do an Industry Placement with Adelaide-Mbale Children’s Health Fund program (AMCHF), which undertakes disease prevention and health education activities in Mbale, Uganda. It was exciting to be able to undertake such a role, working hand in hand with a classmate in collaboration with the AMCHF program directors who reside in Adelaide. The placement gave me a feel for being a Public Health practitioner and opened up my eyes to the fact that I can actually run a program to help communities in Kenya while residing anywhere in the world – thanks to technology.
“I also love the online classes as they give me flexibility to do them in my own time”
4. The sky is the limit if you set your mind to it
Someone once gave me this advice: pursue excellence in whatever you do, even if you are not good at it, because practice makes perfect. By following this advice, I’ve been able to achieve so much more than I ever thought possible.
As a Torrens University student, I am very proud to have joined the Academic Board. I have been able to network with senior members of the university and positively contribute to decision-making. As a member of the Students Representative Council, I helped run a successful Women’s Health event on campus. But more than anything, I am proud to be an adult student in the same class as students my daughter’s age, and performing well, relating well with them and being a role model to them. Through my studies, I have gained so much knowledge and so many skills that are needed to work with communities. I feel confident that I will achieve my career goals.