When Stephanie O’Brien’s father suffered a stroke that hindered his mobility, his doctors said he would be on a long road to recovery. However, the hard work and dedication of his physiotherapists saw him walking in just a few weeks.
For ten-year-old Stephanie, this experience ignited a passion to help others in their journey to overcome physical limitations.
“I was only ten, so I really had no idea what a physio was,” Stephanie says. “But I saw how their work helped my dad and I was like, ‘I want to do that’. I want to help people like my dad and help their families as well because that experience had such a big impact on me.”
In July of 2020, Stephanie’s father faced further health issues when he was diagnosed with myeloma cancer and had to have neurosurgery to remove the tumour . Although this experience has been hard for Stephanie and her family, she says that it has pushed her further to work in the health sector.
“After neurosurgery, for a few weeks, you can’t walk, you can’t really sit up,” Stephanie says. “Being in the hospital with my mum and watching the physios working with my dad and being personable, not treating him like just another client but as a person — it was so good to see. That’s what I want to do.”
Nearly eight years after first realising she wanted to become a physiotherapist, Stephanie is ready to pursue her passion with the help of the JCU Rising Star Scholarship. The scholarship, worth $10,000, is awarded to Year 12 students who have demonstrated consistently high levels of academic achievement and who uphold their school’s ethos, as well as a commitment to regional Australia.
Much to Stephanie’s surprise, as well as receiving the JCU Rising Star Scholarship she also received an Early Offer to study Physiotherapy at JCU.
“I am really, really lucky,” Stephanie says. “I can’t believe it happened!”