College of Medicine and Dentistry

Publish Date

15 May 2019

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A step in the right direction

Jessica Storrar aspired to be a doctor for a long time. The JCU Indigenous Education and Research Centre’s (IERC) Winter School helped her realise that goal.

“I grew up around hospitals and healthcare so I was inspired by the people I saw working in those fields,” Jessica said. “I wanted to go down a similar pathway to them and invoke the change they had been doing and help the underrepresented populations in our society within healthcare.”

Since her initial goals involved studying Medicine in her local area, Canberra, JCU's Winter School was somewhat of a surprising opportunity - one that helped her to see new potential in her field. “I attended the Winter School in 2018 and I did the vet and biomed course, so it was a bit different to what I wanted to do. I enjoyed seeing the other areas of the uni and experiencing what those kinds of fields entailed and from that, understanding what career pathway I actually wanted to take.”

Jessica Storrar
Jessica Storrar
IERC Winter School has assisted Jessica Storrar in her dream of becoming a doctor

Gaining practical experience

A few months later, Jessica received the call telling her she’d been accepted into Medicine in North Queensland.

Given she’s from Canberra, it’s a call she might never have received had she not experienced JCU for herself at the Winter School. “I hadn’t experienced JCU very much, it’s kind of an unheard of place down there,” she said. “I think it gave me insight into a different type of learning to what we were being taught in Canberra. It’s very much the ANU research pathway rather than the practical focus that comes through from JCU.”

Having studied her course for a few months now, she’s found the skills she picked up at Winter School have carried through to her university life.

“In our Winter School case studies, we had a vet process that is similar to a process we are using in medicine, so I’m translating the skills over to what I’m doing now," she said.

“The hands-on experience, understanding the more practical applications of things and the different styles of learning have helped me."
JCU Medicine student Jessica Storrar

Jessica also had an incredible cultural experience during her week of Winter School, learning about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and histories of North Queensland. “The Winter School at JCU has a very strong focus on cultural activities at night and understanding the culture, especially up in Far North Queensland, of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander activities, which I think was really important to learn," she said.

Getting into med school wasn’t the only connection that Winter School set up for Jessica. Just like her, you won’t have to do Winter School alone, with plenty of opportunities during the week to make great friends.

“I made a few friends and a lot of us kept in touch, especially the year 12s when we were heading off to uni and seeing where people ended up,” she said.

Want to discover the spark that kickstarted Jessica's career? JCU's Indigenous Education and Research Centre offers Winter School programs over a five-day period during the winter school holidays and Summer School programs in late November every year.

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