Jennifer Myers dreams of becoming an occupational therapist, even if it means taking an unconventional path to get there
Jennifer first heard of STEM in year 8, but says she dismissed it as something “only for high achievers”. Thankfully, she didn’t let those early misconceptions stop her. Now she’s on a study path towards her dream job of becoming an occupational therapist (OT) – a health profession that helps people with physical or cognitive impairments to gain independence.
Jennifer undertook a school-based traineeship in Allied Health Assistance in years 11 and 12. This included one day per week working at a hospital, gaining hands-on skills in the health sectors of medical imaging, dietetics, speech pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
Leaving your comfort zone
Jennifer says choosing a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course has given her valuable industry experience and helped to clarify her career aspirations. In 2020 Jennifer won the School-based Trainee of the Year award and went on to become a Training Awards mentor. Jennifer says in addition to her studies, this experience has been an important part of her development.
“Going from a student working around the different departments at the hospital to an allied health assistant, advocating, judging and mentoring for the VET pathway for the Australian Training Awards has pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a new role of leadership and responsibility,” she says.
Taking the leap
After finishing school with a VET qualification already under her belt, Jennifer was accepted into her second university preference – a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science at the Australian Catholic University. With the first year completed, Jennifer has now transferred into a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy.
“My transition from school into my dream course at university has been an unconventional one,” Jennifer says – but she’s still found value and opportunity every step of the way. “I’ve found this ‘bridging’ course to be incredibly valuable as an introduction to university, providing the foundational knowledge to human biology, technology and scientific research.” Stepping out of her comfort zone has spilled into her everyday life now, too: “A few weeks ago I went skydiving… and, crazily
enough, I loved it!”
Jennifer’s study and career pathway
- Cert III, Allied Health Assistance, Redcliffe Hospital
- 2020 Qld School-based Trainee of the Year
- 2020 Australian School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year Award – Finalist
- 2021 Australian Training Awards Mentor
- Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science (transferring to Bachelor of Occupational Therapy), Australian Catholic University
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.