Georgia Staples has been interested in health and medicine for as long as she can remember. Her dream to work as a health professional was stimulated during her two years volunteering at the Nurse Maude Hospice in Christchurch during her senior years at school. This was an eye-opening experience for Georgia who commented that “the nurses were awesome and so inspiring. My grandma passed away at Nurse Maude and it was very important to me to be able to give back to them. I valued being treated as part of the team”.
Georgia came to the University of Otago because the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) programme seemed tailor-made for her interests in science and medicine. Living in Dunedin provided her with more independence and a chance to spread her wings - there was also the draw of the unique Dunedin student experience “something that you just don’t get anywhere else”. Georgia loved the HSFY programme, particularly the papers in Chemistry, Cell Biology and Human Body Systems, and discovered “biomedical science is my place”. Although she was initially disappointed not to achieve her dream of a place in medicine at the end of her first year, she is now really pleased that she has had the opportunity to study for a BBiomedSc degree as “I have learnt so much and this degree will be of immense benefit in the long term”.
Georgia chose the BBiomedSc degree because she liked the way the degree is structured around different themes and found that the schedules (that provide a list of papers to choose from) very helpful. “BBiomedSc felt like a further step in the right direction”. The flexibility of the programme was a bonus, as this allowed Georgia to change her major to Drugs & Human Health when she discovered how much she enjoyed the pharmacology papers at second year. An additional bonus is the support provided to students - “I always knew where to find help in BBiomedSc”.
Like most successful students, Georgia sets high expectations for herself and is very organised in her approach to her studies. She has found that her work as a note-taker for the Disability Information & Support Office has been a great stimulus to write up her lecture notes on time, and also provides learning opportunities as “I can’t write coherent notes for others if I don’t understand the material myself”.
Friends and family are also very important to Georgia and she is careful to balance her study with movie nights, flat lunches and regular visits home.
Georgia was thrilled to win one of the inaugural Elizabeth Jean Trotter Undergraduate Scholarships in Biomedical Sciences. “It was really special to be chosen. I enjoyed writing my application and it was such a confidence-booster to be awarded this Scholarship”.
Advice for future students? “Don’t let yourself get forced into a programme that you are not passionate about. You need to find your own path and follow what you want to do. I wouldn’t get good marks if I didn’t enjoy my papers”.