Monthly Archives: June 2014

Country Girl to Dietetic Career

Growing up in the country and how it has helped me become who I am today.

My name is Tessa and I am one week from becoming a Dietitian (one measly exam to cross off the list!) and how am I at this point in my life? Let me share a little bit about my journey…

Growing up in a small country town, everyone knows everyone. And yes this can be comforting but it can also be annoying. However, looking back, I wouldn’t change this upbringing because it has truly helped to shape the person I am today.

I started my education at St.Patricks primary school, began my high school years at McAuley College and completed my secondary schooling at St.Arnaud Secondary College. I have many memorable moments during these years- a mix of academic and sporting. I danced for 13 years (of which I absolutely loved), played netball, basketball, tennis, swimming club and squash (of which I was persuaded by my father as the club was one short for the competition- wasn’t my favourite sport!) I also competed in long distance athletics and cross country throughout high school and there weren’t many days in which I would miss a run up the bush (mostly with Dad- who I have still never let beat me!) Jack (my little brother) on the other hand, has always crossed that line before me. But who’s competing?!

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Academia was also an integral part of my schooling and something of which I worked extremely hard to excel in. I had my heart set on becoming a Dietitian from Year 10 when I completed a weeks work experience with different Allied health professionals. So my focus was set for my VCE years. I thought Year 12 was the toughest year ever! (Little did I know the severity of a masters degree!). I worked my butt off and achieved an ENTER score that didn’t allow me entry into Nutrition and Dietetics undergrad at Monash, but I poured my heart and soul into it, so I knew it was the absolute best I could do. Did this stop me from pursuing my dream Dietetic career pathway? Well clearly not, because I’m nearly there today!

So when I couldn’t get into the undergraduate course, I applied for a Health Science degree at Deakin Uni to attempt the “back door” entry into Dietetics. I was accepted and deferred my 12 months because a) I needed to work towards receiving youth allowance to support myself financially whilst studying and b) I was still only 17 following graduation and sooooo not maturely and emotionally ready to venture into next education chapter in life!

I moved to Ballarat and worked in two (hard slog, slave labour) hospitality jobs. I could not have achieved this without the support of my Great Aunt Dawn and two dear friends Kyra and Bibbs. Growing up I would always get home sick. I couldn’t even sleep over at a friends house without crying to go home. So to be living away permanently was the first big challenge in my life. Towards the end of 2009 I moved back home to earn some bigger bucks for Uni at the Turkey Farm!

So 2010 came around quite quickly, and I moved to Geelong to start my undergrad degree. I cried the night before, the morning of, in the car on the trip down and as I said good bye to mum and dad (as though I was never going to see them again!). I lived on Res for 2 years and I had an absolute ball and would strongly recommend all country kids to try and experience this. No you don’t have to go out 3 nights a week and party. But you will meet the most amazing people and make friends for life. Once again I worked my butt off to receive the high marks I needed to gain entry into the masters degree- my ultimate goal. And then this happened-December of 2012 came around, when I received a “confirm or decline” the masters of dietetics degree offer from Deakin University. Waves of emotions struck as I finally realised that all my hard work had paid off.

So 2013 began and so did my trechorous journey to become a Dietitian. The most emotionally, physically and intellectually roll coaster I’ve now experienced in my life to date! It has taught me so much about myself I didn’t even know. Like my ability to smash out crazy literature reviews, to learning all the dietary related disease and illnesses to how the body can actually function off six hours sleep, 9 hour working days + 2hrs of training (don’t tell mum I continued this through Clinical!) + 3hr study/night with all the domestic duties in between! And no I don’t have kids yet, so I can be selfish! I can’t begin to imagine how some in my course have achieved this with families and others to consider in their lives. I take my hat off to them.

One of the biggest learning experiences whilst on clinical is to really appreciate and cherish what you’ve got. The strength and courage of some who are so debilitated and unwell? Well it really amazed me and really puts life into perspective.

So I guess this brings me to now acknowledging those who have helped me in my journey to being a Dietitian (particularly this last 18 months).

My friends, from home and the ones I’ve made along my university journey. Each and every one of you all bring out the best in me, and surrounding myself with your fun, positivity and company truly makes me happy.

My brothers, older and younger, and my sister in law, who although have been a far, have always believed in me and supported my strive for success. I love them very much.

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My partner, who I’ve shared my life with since high school. We’ve been through ups and downs, breaks and long distance- even started living together (before you moved back to the country for work!). I cannot begin to tell you how appreciative I am of all your support. Although we share similar values and morals, we have opposite temperaments and for this I am grateful because you really calm my storm (many many many storms in the past 12 weeks!!!). You always seem to relax me and make me smile and make me laugh. No matter what time, no matter what temper tantrum, rant and rave these past twelve weeks, you’ve continued to encourage and never let me forget that I can and that I will get there- and look, I’m a week away. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

And finally, to my parents. I know I’ve caused them both much heart ache and stress, particularly these last 12 weeks, being the most challenging. But when I achieved something great during the placement day or I got back a great mark or I made my patient really happy, mum and dad are the first I wanted to tell. Because the real reason why I’ve been successful and come this far already in life- is the two of them. The morals they’ve instilled me, the ongoing support and always believing in me- I will be forever grateful.

So I suppose this blogging business is very new to me, and this has raved on a bit! I hope my future blogs to bring you stories and information about food and nutrition. I truly believe all have the right to access nutritious foods and be educated on how to ensure a healthy lifestyle. But for now, I really wanted you to understand my journey to reaching this point in my life so far. And I also wanted to use it as an opportunity to acknowledge those who helped me achieve this.

So growing up in the country? Yes annoying at times, but it forced me to move away to pursue my tertiary studies. It forced me to be independent and work for financial support. It forced me to get out of my comfort zone and meet so many new people. It forced me to realise there is a whole wide world of opportunities and ultimately YOU are the force behind the drive to success. Do I want to move back to the country? Well that I’m still yet to decide. One step at a time. Let’s tick of this final exam next week and then we’ll see where the jobs will take me!

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Stay tuned as I continue my journey into the wonderful world of food, nutrition and health for life.

xx

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