Scholarships helped me to gain independence and help save lives

Becoming a nurse gave me a new beginning, my independence, and the essential training to be able to save a young man’s life.

My name is Karen Marks and it is my honour to write to you today.

I’ll be honest with you, I hope that by sharing my story you will be inspired to support students through scholarships and help them to succeed. I was very fortunate to receive a scholarship at a crucial time in my life, from people just like you, which helped me to study Nursing. You can choose to believe in a student in the same way others believed in me.

I grew up in Adelaide’s northern suburbs and had a challenging upbringing. I had my first child when I was 19, and when my youngest child was six weeks old I completed a short course to become a security guard. I really enjoyed the work, but I have always had a constant desire to help and care for other people and realised that I wanted to become a nurse.

After becoming an enrolled nurse, I knew I had to keep the momentum going and applied to UniSA to study the Bachelor of Nursing. No-one in my family had been to university before and I would be the first to graduate.

It was around this time that my husband and I temporarily separated so I found myself a single mum raising three young children, working as an enrolled nurse (0.8 week) on shifts, and studying full-time at night. I wasn’t the only one though – there were quite a few of us at uni who were ‘mature-age’ students and we really supported each other. I am eternally grateful to have received two scholarships while I was studying. As well as the critical financial assistance, I felt supported and motivated when I was exhausted.

With the financial assistance I was able to buy books to set myself up to study and support my family while I was on placement. My last placement was an eight week block in Pt Augusta, I was unable to work and my family was hundreds of kilometres away.

I had never been away from my children before, let alone for eight whole weeks. I agree that these ‘on-the-job’ placements are valuable for our learning and future employment, but this is also an added stress – and one that you will most likely remember too. I was lucky that I knew I had the scholarship and had set money aside to live on. I know that others studying Nursing were not so fortunate and really struggled, especially while on placement.

It was during my placements, when I realised that I enjoyed nursing in emergency. This was made even more evident after one day when I helped to save a young man’s life. I drove past a serious incident in a rural town and provided essential medical assistance until the paramedics could reach him. The feedback from the intensive care paramedic and paramedic on the scene was that I saved this young man’s life that day. I have my nursing skills to thank for that.

This experience cemented my desire to become an emergency nurse and I am currently working in an emergency department in Brisbane. I am working full-time and really enjoying it. Every shift, my colleagues and I are doing all that we can to provide the best care for the patients; those in our community who are depending on us in times of need.

So today, I strongly encourage you to make a donation to UniSA’s Scholarship Fund and give a helping hand to another student, one just like me. The more money raised, the more students who can receive a scholarship and receive the extra support needed to flourish in their studies. This is why I am supporting UniSA’s Scholarship Fund.

Together, let’s continue supporting students into the future – I’m excited to see how they will contribute to the nursing sector. Today’s students are the next generation of bright minds and innovative leaders. When they succeed, we all succeed.

Education and receiving a scholarship has allowed me to take control of my life and pursue something just for myself, but more importantly, it has allowed me to provide personal health care to our Australian community on a daily basis and improve more lives than just mine.

I hope by sharing my story with you today, that you will be inspired to support more students through the UniSA Scholarship Fund.

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