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Darcy takes the necessary ‘STEPS’ for a career in human healthcare

Published:05 September 2019

CQUniversity Bachelor of Paramedic Science student Darcy De Jong was recently presented with a Zonta Club Encouragement Prize at the 2019 Student Award Ceremony, for being the highest achieving female student in the course for 2018.

For 10 years, Darcy De Jong travelled throughout Western Australia, Queensland, and Victoria, with her dog, Amstel, working as a vet nurse. It was during this time that she longed for a career in human healthcare.

However, given that she had left high school at the end of year 10, Ms De Jong’s initial options were limited. That was until she came across CQUniversity’s STEPS (Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies) course in Mackay.

Now a current CQUniversity Bachelor of Paramedic Science student, PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) leader, Zonta Club Encouragement Prize Winner and soon-to-be Golden Key International Honour Society member, Ms De Jong says it’s never too late to change your career pathway.

“I am just a 31-year-old former apprentice mechanic, bee farm assistant and vet nurse, who enjoys sewing, growing veggies and has an ambition to one day save the world," she says.

“Before STEPS, my highest school level was year 10. I never imagined going to university let alone being acknowledged for the grades. It’s never too late to change your mind about who or what you want to be."

Interestingly, CQUniversity’s STEPS course not only taught Ms De Jong invaluable skills but also sparked her interest in paramedic science.

“As part of the course, I learned maths, essay writing for university, and foundations of chemistry and physics, as well as computing and study skills – all of which I use frequently throughout my degree,” she says.

“I also completed a job quiz that applied my interests to a database of careers and provided me with a shortlist of options. I hadn’t even considered paramedics before this point, but instead nursing and sonography, so I’m very glad I completed the quiz!”

Ms De Jong was recently presented with a Zonta Club Encouragement Prize at the 2019 Student Award Ceremony, for being the highest achieving female student in the course for 2018.

“The last award I received was in grade six for ‘practicing my recorder diligently,’ so I was very proud to receive this accolade,” she says.

“It takes a lot of prior planning to manage my study commitments along with everything else I do.

“I keep a diary and a wall planner in my office, both of which outline every deadline. I set out my study week and set alarms for when tutorials and Zoom session are running. And, I get up and study – no excuses.

“To stay sane, I do allow myself study breaks so go for a run or to do yoga. I’ve also taken up sign language classes. However, I delete social media during the semester, and I don’t have Netlfix!” she laughed.

Ms De Jong’s study routine works well around her PASS leader commitments.

“I recently become a PASS leader for the Biochemistry unit within the Bachelor of Paramedic Science course. I remember how intimidating this subject was, so I was super excited to have the opportunity to help other students navigate through the unit,” she says.

“Just like with anything else, once you get started and build confidence, study becomes less scary and more fun.

“I love this unit, it’s fascinating. I love how each piece of information we receive invokes thousands of questions and thoughts and the learning just seems endless!! Finding out what our bodies are doing at a cellular level, every second of every day is mind-blowing!”

Ms De Jong can’t wait to embark on her career as a paramedic, upon graduating in 2021.

“Hopefully, I can be there on someone’s worst day to make it a little more bearable for them. And, while I’m saving lives and the world, I will also have my own land, festooned with rescued animals and vast fields of veggies.”