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Hannah found a passion for public health in the Kimberley

This article appears in: Alumni stories, Health, Online study
Public health graduate Hannah at work

Hannah’s time volunteering in a remote community in the Kimberley would inspire her to change gears in her career. Studying public health at Charles Darwin University became the link to her future. 

After graduating with a biomedical science degree, Hannah took a year off to figure out her next move.  

“I ended up going into one of the remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley region and did some volunteering at a school up there.”

Working with these high school aged students gave her the career clarity she was seeking.

However, Hannah returned to her hometown of Melbourne only to discover that jobs within this field require a public health background. 

Choosing CDU

Public health grad Hannah in the Kimberley

“I was looking at local unis and nothing was really jumping out at me in terms of subjects and majors and contact hours,” she says. 

A friend studying a graduate diploma at CDU suggested Hannah read up on the Graduate Diploma of Public Health—which can be studied remotely from Melbourne. 

I loved the areas you could specialise in, like looking at the First Nations health promotion space more closely, and the ethics and safe research practices involved.

As she had continued working with Kimberley students boarding in Melbourne, Hannah didn’t want study to interfere with her work hours. Online study fit her lifestyle perfectly. 

Plus, she was able to put her learnings into practice in real time.

“It sounds weird but I was actually enjoying studying, even the assignments, as it was something I was interested in doing and could apply it to my work". 

Hannah ended up loving her new area of study so much she went on to pursue a Master of Public Health, using the graduate diploma as credit.

Authenticity and connection

Hannah appreciated the “authenticity” of CDU. 

“I was looking at CDU’s model and it involved actually having a First Nations lecturer delivering First Nations research,” she says. “That authenticity is what I want in a course.”

“It was 100% a big part of what grabbed me about public health at CDU.”

Hannah’s undergraduate degree was studied on campus, so studying online was a new experience in itself. 

I liked it because it gave me the chance to work full-time and not forgo an income to get a degree. 

She also found studying remotely gave her a new confidence in making connections. 

“What I actually did—something I was a bit shy to do in my undergrad—was reach out to my lecturers and ask questions.”

“Everyone was so easy to contact. I never would’ve done that if I wasn’t online I don’t think, but having that easy access to lecturers and unit heads was really good.”

"Diverse in a good way" 

Hannah at work in the diverse public health space

A community-oriented role with the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation popped up while Hannah was finishing her master’s degree. 

“My job doesn’t have health promotion in the title, but it follows a bit of everything I studied where I’m able to work within community and provide young people with capacity building opportunities through life-changing programs, inevitably promoting and supporting the community’s health and wellbeing,” she says. 

“I was very keen on health promotion as a focus of the public health degree, where you’re focusing on a certain health issue but trying to figure out how to prevent it from happening in the first place."

Medicine is about treating what’s already there, but public health is about stopping it before it happens.

A public health degree “is diverse in a good way”, she adds.

“There are so many industries and organisations you can work in with this degree, whether it’s a hospital role or out in remote and rural communities."

 “Look at my job within a footy club—it wasn’t until I was in this role that I knew public health opportunities exist within this space.” 

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