Third-year Bachelor of Podiatric Medicine student in the Charles Sturt School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences Ms Cristina Da Silva has overcome financial and social challenges, determined to obtain her degree.
Having worked in healthcare for fifteen years, Cristina wanted to move into a practitioner role to provide quality care, free of cultural, racial, or economic biases.
Experiencing financial hardship growing up prevented Cristina from pursuing further education. It was during these years that she witnessed the positive impact education can have on an individual and those around them.
Cristina, who moved from south-west Western Australia in 2019 to study at Charles Sturt in Albury-Wodonga, said the financial pressures of studying had almost forced her to give up her new career.
“The financial stress I felt regarding how I was going to afford accommodation during my third year almost saw me dropping out altogether,” Cristina said.
“Juggling multiple financial commitments such as the cost of accommodation and personal expenses was becoming overwhelming.
“The support I received from the Charles Sturt University Foundation Accommodation Scholarship helped relieve that pressure and has put me on a secure pathway to finish my course,” she said.
Cristina is passionate about the example she is setting for others from a low socio-economic background when it comes to obtaining a quality education.
“This degree will equip me with skills needed to offer the very best in health care to my family, friends and the wider community,” Cristina said.
“It also shows others that it doesn’t matter where you come from, we all have the power to transform our lives by pursuing education in a field in which we feel we can make a difference.”
Cristina is an active member in her local community and hopes to continue her work as a volunteer helping people in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Helping out as a volunteer during this pandemic has showed me just how tough some people are doing it.
“I’ve enjoyed letting people know about the services available to them to upskill and pursue an education to give them hope, as who knows how long this will go on,” Cristina said.
CEO of the Charles Sturt Foundation Ms Sarah Ansell said, “Cristina’s story is one of true grit and determination supported through the financial backing of this scholarship.
“We believe everyone committed to developing their skills through higher education should be given the opportunity.
“Our graduates go on to fill critical roles in society and a student’s potential should not be hindered based on their family’s bank balance,” Ms Ansell said.
Cristina thanked Charles Sturt for the financial aid when it looked like completing her degree may not be possible.
“Obtaining this qualification would not have been possible without the generous support from Charles Sturt University. For that, I am eternally grateful,” she said.
There are more than 150 scholarships currently on offer through Charles Sturt University. A full list of scholarships is available on the Charles Sturt website.