Growing up next to an abandoned research centre for malaria in Papua New Guinea, Verynnia Neilson (BMedSc ’22) and her brother would rummage through all the discarded paraphernalia, discovering mosquito slides, lab notebooks and microscopes, allowing them as children to disappear into another world while examining long-forgotten insects.
What could have been the beginning of a love story with cells, sadly wasn’t to be… yet. Attending school in a developing country meant Verynnia was never afforded the opportunity to access scientific instruments or explore the world of biology, so when given the chance to fulfill her personal aspirations later in life, she took it with both hands.
“I knew I wanted to study science, but it didn’t seem a possibility until the time I applied and sat the entrance exam for university and was accepted,” says Verynnia.
“My first exposure to a Bunsen burner was at age 43 with Flinders University! The University’s Biology Discovery Centre peeled the foggy veneer from my eyes to expose me to sights I had never seen.”
Fast forward a few years and Verynnia has now finished her placement in Genetic Molecular Pathology with SA Pathology, and has just one more semester of professional placement to complete in Anatomical Pathology to be fully qualified as a Medical Scientist in Laboratory Medicine.
“I always wanted to feel job-ready from my journey embarking into education at a mature age and this degree has given me this tenfold.”
“I have a wonderful support network from all my lecturers, including two incredibly inspirational women who spring to mind: Dr Voula Gaganis and Associate Professor Jill Carr. Their passion and professionalism is nothing short of awe-worthy,” says Verynnia.
“Participating in laboratory sessions provided me with the necessary skills to feel competent within a laboratory setting, while giving me courage to create my own scientific adventure and self-belief.”
The structure of the Bachelor of Medical Science meant Verynnia could diversify and fine-tune her topics to achieve personal goals in areas of specific interest. These pathways exist to a huge number of medical specialisations, with experts and researchers ready to prepare students for their chosen career.
“I was supported every time I asked a question or sought more information to a task which I couldn’t quite get my head around,” Verynnia explains.
“I originally came to University as a mature age student because I had a dream to work in public health – I particularly wanted\ to work at SA Pathology, so now being employed by SA Pathology in the Flinders Medical Centre is literally a dream come true for me.”
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