Dietetics student takes the roads less travelled

Abbey Sullivan, while on placement in North West Queensland.

A USC Dietetics student planning a series of work placements across regional Queensland in the next six months has won a $1,500 scholarship to help fund her journey of more than 2,000km.

At 20 years old, Abbey Sullivan’s mission to improve the dietary health of people living along roads less travelled has already taken her to Urandangi near Mt Isa and to rural India (before international borders closed).

She said her placement in North West Queensland earlier this year opened her eyes and heart to remote communities with limited access to nutritious, safe and affordable food and sometimes even water.

Abbey Sullivan – USC Dietetics Student

“These problems are in our backyard and, being a country girl from remote Australia, I felt this issue really hit home,” said Abbey, who grew up on a cattle farm near Glenmorgan.

“I want to learn more about Indigenous Australian culture so I can go out in these communities to work when I graduate from USC at the end of this year.”

She is honoured and delighted to have been awarded a WIL (work integrated learning) scholarship from national professional association, the Australian Collaborative Education Network.

“This is a great boost because for the rest of 2021, I’m continuing full-time work placements at hospitals along the east coast, requiring relocation from Glenmorgan 568km to Hervey Bay, 1,177km to Townsville and 428km to the Sunshine Coast.”

Abbey said attending university was not a common career path for people from her region.

“During boarding for high school, I developed a passion for humanitarian work and nutrition, and in 2017 made the big decision of moving east to the University of the Sunshine Coast to study a Bachelor of Dietetics,” she said.

She said the degree was preparing her well for her dream career.

“These placements provide new conditions that help me build critical thinking, leadership skills, cultural competencies, communication skills, and specific nutritional skills,” she said.

“I like to get out of my comfort zone and experience the pressures of diverse environments.”