Sammy-Jo Kupfer

I’m from Mt Isa and I’m a proud Kalkadoon woman.Portrait of Sammy-Jo Kupfer

I had my daughter and I needed a career that I could go anywhere with. I also enjoyed looking after and caring for people. I started studying when my daughter was one-and-a-half years old. It was tough at times.

You’ve really got to push through the first year. It’s full-on, but it’s worth it. After that year, you’ll really get into uni and understand how everything runs.

I enjoyed putting the theory into practice while on placement. I did most of my placement at Townsville Hospital. I did placements on different wards, which meant I had a good look at where I wanted to go later as a nurse.

I’m proud that I went to uni. I grew up with my mum’s side of my family and no one on that side had gone to uni before. Close family and friends attended my graduation, but — most importantly — my daughter was there. It was pretty overwhelming having her watch me graduate.

I’m now working at the Townsville Hospital. It’s great because my support network is here. I got a graduate position at the Townsville Hospital after finishing uni. I went straight in and did six months in emergency, then six months in geriatrics. They are two totally different areas. It was a big learning curve, but it was good. It teaches you how to be resilient and how to work with change.

Nursing is rewarding. There can be hard times, but you learn how to cope with different things and you learn a lot about yourself.

My passion is to do more work with indigenous health. Sometimes, I go out and chat to students at school and people in the community about university and health. I want to help to open a young black girl’s eyes to show them that they can make a change as well. That’s what I hope to do.

I was a student ambassador while at JCU. During that time, I went up to Weipa and back to Mt Isa to talk to kids who are at risk. I would like to start a program where I can chat to kids — build up their self-esteem and show them there are other ways of life.

I’d also like to use my nursing degree to talk about health and wellness. I think closing the gap needs to start with our youth. If we can educate them while they’re at school, they can create change at a young age.

My daughter inspires me every day. I want to show her she can do anything she wants to.