Hey gal, this is me… Denise/Denis/Dee/Dong (yep, I have the most embarrassing nickname in Uni). I’m 21 and currently in my fourth and final year (woohoo!) of a Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise Physiology) at the University of Sydney.

My deal is… The University of Sydney provides a plethora of opportunities that each student can delve into. Right now as I am typing this up, I am in Broken Hill for my rural clinical placement – that’s 1, 119.8 km away from home to be exact. I share a house with 6 other fun, intelligent and down to earth students studying health. I divide my work hours between the hospital (my colleague and I basically run the entire exercise physiology department – yes I know, I have been thrown in the deep end but I am loving it!) and a private multi-disciplinary health clinic.

What I loved about my university life… First highlight would definitely have to be how much I have personally grown and developed in the past 4 years. I did this by meeting a great number of colleagues and academics, and joining various clubs and societies (more about that later). Second highlight would be meeting some of the best people, I call my best friends. Cumberland campus is well-known for its friendly students and staff. But I have found 5 of the best people on campus who have a similar drive and motivation as me to do more than the norm.

What I didn’t love about my university life… Unfortunately, I did not take advantage of the Nutella crepes that were sold on Level 2 of the JFR Building on main campus. Each bite was this heavenly chocolatey goodness! Yummm…

Why I chose to study my degree… Back in high school, I was very involved in sport (competing in zone cross countries and athletics) and also had a strong interest in science. So when it came time to choose a degree, I thought it would be great to combine my appreciation of sport and science, and learn about how our amazing body works in movement. So I applied to a Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Sports Science). Two years later, I wanted to explore how exercise could be used treat the growing rate of chronic diseases in Australia… and here I am now!

Exercise Physiology Class of 2016

‘Exercise Physiology Class of 2016’ (ENID loves this)

The opportunities I’ve had so far… (I’ll share my best three). Coming in on number 3 is co-founding the first network of student leaders on Cumberland Campus, called the FHS Student Leaders. Ranking in on number 2 is partnering up with two of the most awe-inspiring leaders from the private and public health sector as part of the Leadership and Alumni Mentoring Programs. Without a doubt, my number 1 is being a part of the Student Ambassador Program. I’m grateful to have worked with some of the most brightest and open-minded students who are now lifelong friends.

The challenges have been… I distinctly remember attending a conference and leading a group assignment at the same time. With clear communication and effective time management amongst the team, we created a successful project… and a 60 page report! Girl power!

Why I have chosen this path… Long story short, I am passionate about the integration of exercise and physical activity into health care, disease prevention and rehabilitation. Exercise is medicine, gals! The empowering effects – it makes you feel healthier, stronger and much more confident.

Where I want it to take me… To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure (maybe this next placement after Broken Hill will help me out). What I do know is that I enjoy working with Australia’s future generation aka paediatrics. Exercise can be utilised to offset chronic diseases at such an early age!

My advice to anyone pursuing my pathway is… Dip your toes in as many opportunities as possible, and then find out what you don’t enjoy (because it’s very important to know what you don’t like) and what you do enjoy… and go from there!

And P.S. I am passionate about… The future of health care in Australia. Integrated care recognises that health outcomes are improved by combining efforts of multiple disciplines and interventions over a patient’s cycle of care, rather than by the efforts of incongruent silos. One example of this would be that cardiologists, endocrinologists and physiotherapists can all share relevant medical information of one patient. Not only will there be less duplication of pathology tests and use of other expensive resources, but it will also improve the patient’s health outcomes and their quality of life.