Education and Training
I graduated with a double Bachelor degree in Health and Science and Psychology from Macquarie University in 2011. With growing interest in child and adolescent trauma, I entered the workforce in child protection. Fulfilling multiple roles across the child welfare sector I worked directly with children and families for over 10 years with Government and Non-Government agencies. During this time, I became particularly interested in evidence-based practice in the trauma space. This prompted my enrolment in my Masters of Research, where I graduated from Western Sydney University in 2019. My thesis was Exploring Children's Perspectives of Well-being and Safety.
I am a current PhD student under the supervision of Dr Jordana McLoone and Dr Ursula Sansom-Daly. My working thesis title is A narrative exploration of how children experience and ascribe meaning in their lives when their parent is diagnosed with cancer.
What are the best parts of your current role?
Intellectual freedom. I am grateful to have crafted a research topic which aligns so closely to my area of interest, and for the Graduate Research School and Faculty to see value in me exploring this field of inquiry. I have most enjoyed discussing my research questions with experts in the field and hearing their advice and suggestions in how I can build out my research project, particularly around protocol development.
What are the most challenging parts of your role?
As I near the end of my first PhD year, one of the biggest challenges so far has been synthesising the enormity of literature. At times it has been overwhelming reading the vast amount of research and trying to find a home for it in some way. As an emerging scholar every little piece of information seems really relevant. A skill I would like to strengthen is my ability make sense of the research, determine its relevance to my area of inquiry and being patient if at first it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere. Making sense may occur later in my research years.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I will have completed my PhD by this time! In line with my initial interest of evidence-based practice, I would love to be working in cancer research where meaningful clinical impact is being achieved through translational research improving outcomes for children affected by cancer. I also would love to explore international post-doc cancer research opportunities as part of my five-year plan.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow a similar path in terms of their study/career?
Starting my PhD as an ‘older student’ was frightening. But sometimes life goals are created following certain life experiences and for me this was very much the case after being diagnosed with cancer in 2021 at 34 years. Drawing on my past career interest in understanding how children experience significant life-altering change and my current health experience, I thought there was an unique opportunity in bringing these two areas together. I’m in awe of other survivor-researchers in the cancer arena and it is a true privilege to be able to walk the same path. So, my advice is, don’t let age deter you from pursuing your goals!