A hospital lab in the Sri Lankan capital and school in the central Queensland mining town of Moranbah were important stepping stones on fifth-year student Dilki De Silva‘s path to medicine at James Cook University.
“My mum worked as a medical laboratory technician at Colombo Base Hospital, where I was introduced to the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), looking through her microscopes and seeing things happen around the hospital while I was with her after school,” Sri Lankan-born Dilki says.
“So from an early age, I knew I wanted to do something cool with biology. My mother had a great appreciation for doctors, growing up in rural regions of Sri Lanka where there were many tropical diseases like dengue and chikungunya.”
When Dilki was 11, her family moved to Australia, first to Toowoomba, and a year later to Moranbah, where she and her sister, Dilumi, completed school.
This year, Dilumi joined Dilki as a JCU medical student. Both are grateful for the education they received at Moranbah State High School, where they were awarded Dux in their graduation years. “Our teachers were proactive and able to help us throughout the whole application process to medicine, taking their free time, and were genuinely invested in ensuring we achieved our best,” Dilki says.
She says the great relationship between the people of Moranbah and their GPs is one of the inspirations behind her decision to study medicine. “Some of the GPs have helped deliver the kids I went to school with and been involved with their families for decades,” she says.
“However, it was also eye opening to see some GPs leave the practice, depending on the mining ‘boom and bust’ cycle, and the resultant troubles patients experience from having to travel far for simple health care.”