TAFE provides tools to medical studies

30 June 2024
Headshot image of women with red hair and jacket
Steph Pasco

By Tiahna Fiddling

Steph Pasco’s career has been shaped by a diverse educational background of apprenticeships, diplomas and degrees at CQUniversity. 

Ms Pasco said her academic foundations were first laid when she completed her apprenticeship studies, before continuing her vocational education and training (VET) in a Diploma of Leadership and Management at CQTAFE in 2019.

“I completed my trade as a fitter and turner and CQU helped me to further develop my skills, especially in leading and running projects,” Ms Pasco explained.

“At the time I spent a lot of time travelling and working between a power stations in Queensland. While for the most part my experiences were very positive, there are some challenges. 

“As a woman you typically have to work twice as hard to prove that you understand the scope of works and have the qualifications to support you.”

She explained that her solid VET foundations paved the way for her subsequent university studies. 

“I completed a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) with CQU in 2019. I had kind of fallen into engineering because of my trade, however, my lifelong dream always to be a doctor," she said.

“After spending over a decade working in the power station industry, I decided to return to back study, and enrolled in a Bachelor of Medical Science (Major in Clinical Measurement and Minor in Research) as a pathway to medicine.”

While transitioning between different qualifications and modes of study can be challenging, Ms Pasco said CQU’s support as dual sector university helped her to navigate this with ease.

"For me, all my study, other than res schools, has been online. CQU has always been great for supporting students that aren’t on campus,” she said. 

"When I was traveling a lot for work, online study was definitely a bonus. Especially with flight delays and you are stuck in an airport, at least you can open up a laptop and utilise the time learning.”

“It also provides the flexibility to study from various locations around Australia. Whilst I continue to finalise my medical science studies, I have relocated to Brisbane and am currently working for a joint venture with urban water as a mechanical supervisor.”

Now in the final stages of her medical science degree, Ms Pasco has no plans to stop learning as she prepares to add another VET qualification to her resume.

As a proud Dyirbal woman of northern Queensland, she said her mother’s Indigenous heritage has further fuelled her passion for study with aspirations to support regional First Nations people.

“My next step is to undertake disability services study through TAFE to start my own business that offers mobile support to the Indigenous and National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) community.

“As my long-term goal is to become a General Practitioner (GP), I think it’s important to use what I have learnt, to help those that really need it. To be that support network for our most vulnerable and often looked over people of our community.

“My late mother has been a large influence in this decision. She was part of the stolen generation and didn’t learn about her Mob until her late 50’s but always wanted to be a part of the community in Rockhampton," Ms Pasco said.

“She had a drive to help the young ones, especially the ones that came from abusive homes. I grew up watching her volunteer her time at the local primary schools to help with reading and writing and tried to educate around substance abuse.

“Knowing that what I am doing now is also paving the way to make a difference in the future. It has been this focus on my end goal that has helped me to maintain my motivation for study over the years.”