A scholarship helps fuel rural QLD nursing students' passion for helping others

03 May 2022

"This scholarship will allow me to become the Nurse I've always wanted to be."

These are the powerful words from CQUniCares Connellan Airways Trust Scholarship recipient' Lauren Baguley.

The Bachelor of Nursing student was one of four recipients to receive the scholarship and said it would help remove the financial barriers to a university education while living in rural Queensland.

"This scholarship is honestly so helpful to me personally and my studies'" she said.

"As someone living and working rurally' a trip into town can be a financial burden due to fuel and accommodation costs."

The Charters Towers local began her studies in Brisbane' however' when the COVID-19 pandemic hit' Lauren said she found herself faced with a difficult situation.

"COVID took its toll on me throughout my second year of studies. I was placed in a respiratory ward within a major hospital' and the burnout between both students and nurses working within the ward was profound'" Lauren recalled.

"Lockdowns and mandates provoked an epiphany that I take life and my freedoms for granted and this promoted my move to North Queensland at the beginning of 2021.

"I now work on a family-run cattle property 180km north of Charters Towers as a Governess to two beautiful' yet cheeky children. I had never envisioned myself working on a rural cattle property as a Governess but it's funny how things can change quickly."

Lauren said her move to Charters Towers was only meant to be for a year' but she quickly fell in love with rural Queensland' and she can now see herself living there long-term.

"Living in rural Queensland has opened me up as a person. I really enjoy travelling and discovering new places on the weekend.

"I believe I have become quite spontaneous' a free-spirit' and ultimately a more relaxed person as the rural lifestyle has influenced my outlook on life."

Lauren said that as a child she had an interest in healthcare' but it wasn't until her Grandmother suffered a terrible stroke that her passion intensified.

"After the stroke' my grandmother was unable to be taken care of at home' so we needed to move her to a nursing home'" Lauren said.

"She was unable to walk' shower or eat by herself. My visits often involved me assisting her with these tasks due to the poor staffing ratios at the nursing home.

"When feeding her' or even brushing her hair' I felt very fulfilled as I was able to assist her in something so simple' but it meant the world to her' ultimately improving her wellbeing and happiness."

Lauren's compassion and empathy for others has fuelled her passion for nursing. She said she plans to stay in rural Queensland and hopes to venture into other parts of the state to deliver quality healthcare.

"As someone that lives with chronic illness' I understand the challenges that rural-living people have in accessing a full range of healthcare services. I really hope that I can assist people living in rural and remote communities to have better access' and in turn' have better health outcomes'" she said.

"In order for the success of our rural communities' they need to be able to thrive with the support of healthcare available to them. It's often that many of these people' like myself' have needed to drive hundreds of kilometres for one specialist appointment' which may not always be possible.

"Without my move to rural North Queensland' I would never have understood the need for healthcare access in these communities and I often have felt that many don't know unless they face these challenges themselves."

Jessica Hacket' Executive Officer of Connellan Airways Trust said she was inspired by Lauren's story.

"Lauren's passion for helping others comes from a place deep in her heart and it is extremely inspiring'" Ms Hacket said.

"The team at Connellan Airways Trust is immensely proud to be supporting Lauren with her studies at CQUniversity."

The Connellan Airways Trust is a not-for-profit organisation established by Australian pioneer aviator E.J. Connellan to assist people who reside in Outback Australia through grants and scholarships with more than $4.2 million provided since 1981.

The CQUniCares Scholarship program changes lives and CQU is grateful to partner with the Connellan Airways Trust who share the University's passion for making a difference in the lives of our remote students' their families and our communities.