Travel fuels scholarship student’s desire to improve global health

Posted: Thu, 15th November 2018 | Written by: The Team at Western Chances

Time spent in a resource-poor country helped Western Chances scholarship recipient Stephanie Tedesco appreciate the access to healthcare that we enjoy in Australia, and also to respect the ways of people experiencing different lives.

Travel fuels scholarship student’s desire to improve global health

Stephanie is currently an intern at Bendigo Hospital, on the path to a career in Medicine and dedicated to improving public health. Growing up in Sydenham, she attended Copperfield College and then completed a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Monash University.

“I was inspired to study medicine by my drive to succeed, to keep learning and to give back to community. I wanted to always be learning, and always teaching in a challenging field that was able to help others. Medicine ticked all the boxes for me.”

As part of Team Med at Monash University, Stephanie travelled to Tonga in 2016 to volunteer and learn about community health challenges.

“Tonga was an exciting, challenging and eye-opening experience that I will always value. Exciting because I was able to travel to a different country with a university group and volunteer in a non-communicable diseases clinic for the locals. Challenging because it was a different way of life over there and surviving without internet, western food and fresh water. Eye-opening because I was exposed to the lower level of healthcare in resource poor countries which really made me value access in Australia. The most shocking part was seeing their operating theatres, and the low levels of hygiene compared to Australia.”

Her Tonga encounter had a big impact on Stephanie’s outlook. She realised the road to changing global health care standards would be a long one. Determined to contribute, she helped plan the university Tonga trip in 2017 and shared valuable insights from her experience.

“Overseas travel is a great way to experience life outside our country. However, in hindsight I would recommend that students don’t succumb to “voluntourism”. It is very easy to go overseas and try to change people’s lives, without considering first that they perhaps prefer living their own way.”

Stephanie has also volunteered with AIMS education, teaching English to migrants.

“Volunteering teaches you about compassion, kindness and empathy. It teaches you to not always expect something in return and gives you a sense of fulfillment and gratitude about what you have. I think volunteering is a great way to get involved with the community, to go outside your comfort zone and can enhance communication, teamwork and organisational skills.”

Stephanie values the long-term support from Western Chances which has helped her as she carves out a bright future in the medical field. Stephanie received her first Western Chances scholarship when she was in Year 11 in 2011. She was nominated for her academic talent in Biology and Japaneses, her leadership talents and her involvement with Youth Parliament. Stephanie was awarded funds for textbooks, stationery and a school trip to Japan. Stephanie was successful in having her scholarship renewed for the next 4 years and received funding to support her tertiary study needs.

“Western Chances enabled me to pay for text books, travel expenses, but most importantly English Tutoring and UMAT (medical school entrance exam) training courses in year 12. Without that, I would not have been able to score high enough in English and would not have obtained the ATAR score I did. Western Chances made fulfilling my dreams easier by providing me financial support to obtain resources that I otherwise may not have been able to use.”

Also supporting Stephanie to achieve her study and career goals are her parents, who are Greek and Italian, but Stephanie says she can’t speak either language. She enjoys going for runs, swimming, baking cakes and playing with her cat, Mandy.

“My big dream is to become an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, working in public health, especially with disadvantaged populations who may not have the best access to health care. I would also like to work in regional Australia with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other minority populations.”

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