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Malia overcame the odds to be an occupational therapist

This article appears in: Alumni stories, Health, Pathways to Uni, Vocational Education and Training
CDU student Malia studying online on her couch

Malia Ford has always been determined and ambitious. She’s overcome multiple hurdles to get where she is today and there’s no stopping her now as she chases her dream of becoming an occupational therapist.

About to commence studying her master’s degree in occupational therapy, Malia’s set to fulfill her goal of becoming an occupational therapist, helping others live their healthiest lives. Study combined with personal life experience means she’ll be very well qualified. She has an exciting future ahead.

Against the odds

CDU student Malia Ford playing sport

“For a period during high school I was homeless and experiencing some personal health issues,” says Malia.

I couldn't complete some of my exams and get an ATAR, so I didn't think university was on the cards for me at all.

That all changed when Malia discovered she was able to complete vocational education and training at Charles Darwin University, helping her meet the entry requirements for a Bachelor’s degree in health science and, subsequently, a Master’s of Occupational Therapy.

"My health degree at CDU has allowed me to study units that resonate with me and learn the skills that I need to put into practice as an occupational therapist.

"The degree’s definitely given me confidence that I’m on the right pathway for a successful career in health," she says. 

From EA to OT

Malia’s interest in studying occupational therapy started when she was working as an executive assistant in the health sector.

Surrounded by professionals who were helping others, she wanted a piece of the action. She wanted to forge her own career in health, with a goal to work in the mental health space of occupational therapy.

I chose to study health and occupational therapy because I want to help and empower people.

“I want to help those who’ve experienced similar things to myself and give them the tools to do whatever they need and want to in life," she says. 

Studying occupational therapy online

CDU student Malia Ford studying online with a friend

Combining a mix of on-campus and online study has given Malia the flexibility to study around her other commitments. And with two part time jobs, hobbies and her volunteering commitments on two boards, it’s something she’s grateful for.

“I can watch my lectures online later, so it gives me the time I need to fully commit to my units of study,” she says.  

Even as an online student, lecturers and students at CDU want to connect with you. They want to make sure you succeed.

“I never feel like I miss out because I can always communicate with lecturers online and contribute to virtual discussion boards with other students," she says. 

A helping hand

Additional support classes have meant that Malia has been able to upskill in certain areas.

“When I started studying, I hadn’t written an essay for seven years, so only just passed the first one I did,” she says. “I was remembering year 12 rules instead of university rules.

I took advantage of free academic skill support classes offered by CDU.

"These classes taught me how to structure essays in a way that enabled me to score my first High Distinction.”

A bright future

As Malia continues to study and build rapport with her lecturers, she’s excited at what her future holds.

“Through university I’ve had access to extra programs, research and future study opportunities,” she says.

"The support and expertise of the lecturers has helped me understand about the different pathway options I have and just how far study can take my career. I’m very excited.”

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