Despite being affected by the devastating floods in the northern NSW town of Lismore, Ms Madeline Lisetto (Maddie) continues to be driven by helping those less fortunate than her.
Maddie has always called Lismore home, and is now a fourth-year Bachelor of Occupational Therapy student in the Charles Sturt School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences.
She grew up with her brother and many cousins with whom she is very close.
“I have a big Italian family and we all live roughly five minutes from each other,” Maddie said.
Maddie always felt a desire to help those less fortunate than her, taking inspiration from her family who demonstrated the importance of helping those in need.
“My family showed me how important it was to make donations to charities and to commit some of my spare time to assist the community,” Maddie said.
“Through my degree, I can show my generosity and provide support to disadvantaged individuals.”
As a result of the recent flooding, Maddie’s family home was completely devastated.
“We lost everything,” Maddie said. “Our furniture, clothing, photos, and major possessions were all wiped out.
“Photos were destroyed which meant we lost the memories of key milestones throughout my childhood.
“Cattle died and farm machinery was ruined which significantly affects my family’s livelihood as these were a key source of income.”
Despite the traumatic effect the floods had on Maddie’s own circumstances, she immediately started helping others in the community to rebuild their homes and lives.
“When the flooding happened, it was second nature for me to start pitching in to help strangers clean and remove flood-affected furniture from their homes,” she said.
“Our community has been rebuilding ever since, but it’s going to take some time.”
Maddie received a CSU Foundation Rural Relief Scholarship which provides support to students whose ability to attend or complete university was impacted by the 2022 floods.
“This scholarship means the financial burden experienced by my family as flood victims from Lismore will be significantly reduced,” Maddie said.
“It has enabled me to participate in my final placement which is located more than nine hours away from my home. The support has allowed me to pay for associated costs such as accommodation, travel, and food.”
CEO of the Charles Sturt Foundation Ms Sarah Ansell said, “Maddie’s story is heartbreaking and the University is happy to provide whatever assistance it can in helping her get back on her feet.”
Ms Ansell noted the importance of students completing both their theoretical and practical training before graduation.
“The authentic, hands-on experience our students receive through placements is an invaluable stepping-stone before they enter their chosen industry,” Ms Ansell said.
“Maddie and her family have suffered incredible hardship as a result of the floods, and as a fourth-year student she has come too far to have her placements jeopardised.”
Maddie is proud to be the first in her family to attend university.
Her future plans include applying her education and training to assist rural communities with healthcare.
“After I graduate, I would like to provide occupational therapy services to families within rural areas,” Maddie said.
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