Pursuing her dream to study Occupational Therapy presented Aboriginal student Alana Manhire with the daunting prospect of having to move away from her hometown of Darwin– but she was soon delighted by the study experience she enjoyed at Flinders University in Adelaide.
“It seemed like an easy choice for me to make,” Alana explains. “Flinders had connections to the Northern Territory and had its medical program running in Darwin. I was confident that I could complete some of my placements in Darwin, so I really believed Flinders was a good fit for me.”
As she studied for her Master of Occupational Therapy, Alana’s small study cohort became like a second family to her. “I found that having their support really helped me cope with being away from home,” she says.
She now feels great pride in being the first person in her family to have completed a Masters Degree – “I think this is a pretty special achievement” – and has moved back to Darwin, working as an Occupational Therapist within the Aged Care Unit of the Top End Health Service, for the Northern Territory Government.
“I’m rotating through all sections of the Aged Care Unit, which has enabled me to develop a broad range of skills and work with many different people,” she says. “It has greatly helped me to understand the challenges faced by people from rural and remote communities, and how this impacts on their health and ability to access appropriate services.”
Alana says her knowledge acquired through university studies has enabled her to make a significant difference – returning home with a skill set that can change many people’s lives for the better.
“My definition of success is being able to give back to my community, which in turn gives me so many opportunities,” she says. “I think success is being able to bring a smile to my client’s face and make their day a bit brighter.”