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It’s journey of a lifetime for Scott Williams Foundation Scholar, Shekina

Published:10 July 2019

CQUniversity Bachelor of Nursing student Shekina Plowman was lucky enough to catch up with close family friends Catherine Oui (left) and Phillip Baragud, while undertaking a clinical outreach activity on Yam Island.

The picturesque beauty of Thursday Island in the Torres Strait makes it a traveller's paradise, but according to CQUniversity Bachelor of Nursing student Shekina Plowman, it offers more than what meets the eye.

Shekina recently spent two weeks on Thursday Island as part of her mental health work placement, which she described as a top life experience.

“I was inspired to apply for this opportunity by the stories my mum told me about the incredible adventures she had as a young woman, living up in the Torres Strait,” she said.

“Prior to undertaking my nursing degree, I had always desired to work as a community mental health nurse in a rural or remote locality, and throughout my years studying with CQUniversity, my passion has only grown stronger.

“I knew that attending this placement would be an indispensable experience in helping me to further develop my skills and reach my goal.

“The Thursday Island Community Mental Health Team took me in with open arms and offered a variety of incredible experiences to be a part of, including; attending two clinical outreach days on the outer islands of the Torres Strait with the head psychologist, registrar, nursing team, community liaison officer, and child and youth workers.

“We attended six different islands and conducted cares in the primary health care centres and within patients' homes. I was able to meet and talk with the primary health care workers and local Indigenous people, and learn many invaluable mental health nursing skills.

“I also attended multidisciplinary team meetings, patient consultations, and a day trip out to a remote Aboriginal community in Bamaga, part of the Cape York area. I met many Torres Strait Islander locals and gained some long-lasting friendships.”

Ms Plowman said that given her placement experiences were all so rewarding, it was hard to choose only one highlight.

“It was amazing to fly out over the beautiful turquoise Great Barrier Reef waters in a private charter plane. I was also lucky enough to connect with a few Torres Strait locals, who gifted me some freshly caught crayfish and mackerel!” she said.

“However, I will also remember attending outreach clinics. Getting to work alongside the Thursday Island Mental Health Team was such a great experience in helping me learn. They taught me so many vital skills, which I know I'll use throughout my nursing career.

This placement opportunity was made possible thanks to a Scott Williams Foundation Scholarship, which was awarded to Ms Plowman in March 2019.

“The Scott Williams Foundation scholarship was indispensable in enabling me to be able to afford to go on my Thursday Island placement. The funds received helped pay for my flights, accommodation, and food, as well as my necessary nursing books,” she said.

“Without this scholarship, I would've never been able to attend this incredible trip and learn so much. I'll be forever grateful for receiving this scholarship.”

Ms Plowman recently attended the Philanthropist of the Year Award Gala Lunch in Brisbane, presented by Queensland Community Foundation, where Mr Williams was acknowledged for his exceptional financial generosity to one or more Queensland-based tertiary education institutions.

“What an astounding event to have attended. Set in the beautiful grand space of Brisbane City Hall, it was inspiring to see so many notable individuals who donate so much of their time and money back to the community,” she said

“Scott Williams is a wonderfully humble man who recognises the utmost importance of education. He's a worthy recipient of this award solely based on the fact that he is passionate about helping individuals achieve their educational goals.”

Ms Plowman, who is in the process of applying for graduate positions, said she was excited about her future career prospects.

“I have always wanted to help and care for people. I wanted an exciting career where I knew I could work in a variety of different settings and have many different areas of expertise, and nursing offered me this,” she said.

“I have loved every minute of my course. CQUniversity staff and its support services, as well as my nursing experiences and fellow students, have all helped me grow into the woman I am now, and I cannot wait to go out into the world and become an ambassador of CQUniversity and be the best nurse I can be!”