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ACEN scholarship recipient Lisa von Berky

ACEN scholarships make rural placements possible

UQ people
Published 29 Jul, 2021  ·  2-minute read

Lisa von Berky’s dream of completing a work placement in regional Australia came true thanks to a rural placement scholarship. Follow her journey to Mount Isa and find out what she learnt along the way.

UQ Occupational Therapy student Lisa von Berky always dreamt of doing her placement in a regional Australian town. But the financial aspect of relocation and ongoing costs of living and studying without an income made it challenging. 

When she discovered what Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) scholarships offered, her dream placement location started to become a reality.

Mount Isa Panorama

The beautiful countryside is just one of the many things Lisa loved about her time in Mount Isa

What are ACEN scholarships?

These rural placement scholarships provide $1500 to students undertaking a work integrated learning (WIL) placement in regional or remote Australia. Lisa was one of 8 successful students to receive one for their 2021-2022 university studies.

“The ACEN Scholarship not only funded an incredible learning opportunity, but it allowed me to immerse myself in the community,” says Lisa.

During her time off, she was able to:

  • explore the surrounding towns
  • visit museums and go on tours
  • attend local events like the rodeo
  • volunteer at local shows
  • help with the filming of a country TV show.

“This gave me well-rounded knowledge of the North West Community, which helped me build rapport with the rehabilitation participants and develop resources relevant to the community,” she says.

Lisa with camels

Rehabilitation participants and co-workers weren’t the only new friends Lisa made during her rural placement

What can a rural placement scholarship teach you?

Attending placements in Mount Isa was an exciting opportunity for Lisa, although it did put her out of her comfort zone. Reflecting on her 10-week placement, she values the skills she developed that will set her apart from the crowd when applying for jobs.

“I learnt what it meant to be flexible and adaptable.”

“In my first week, when the power cut out in the rehabilitation centre, this was new and exciting. However, we soon learnt this is a regular – and annoying – occurrence for the people of Mount Isa,” says Lisa.

“This prompted us to consider how we could develop stroke education programs not reliant on technology. We needed to think creatively to develop programs that could be used in any setting, with limited resources and diverse populations.”

Other skills Lisa developed include:

  • cultural awareness through her participation in cultural workshops and events
  • strong resilience to overcome the numerous challenges you face when working rurally – both personally and professionally.

By the end of her placement, Lisa was humbled to be referred to as a local and was often called upon to help orientate new students arriving in town. This community integration was a key component to helping her maintain positive work-life balance and look after her mental health. Lisa credits her ability to participate in these events and experiences to ACEN for providing their full support throughout the process.

Browse the wide range of scholarships available to UQ students.

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