Steve Raymond is a 24 year old Indigenous woman from Wingham, NSW. She graduated from Wollongong University midway through 2014 with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics. In November of 2014 in recognition of Stevie’s leadership capabilities, commitment to her studies and leadership journey, she was awarded the Future Leader in Indigenous Allied Health Award at the second annual National Indigenous Allied Health Awards. Stevie attended the Fourth Annual Critical Dietetics Conference held in Chicago, USA in 2014 where she presented as part of a 3 part symposium themed ‘Presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dieticians in the Australian dietetics workforce’.
“When I was at high school, I loved my Food Technology subject and I knew I wanted a job where I worked closely with people, so Dietetics felt like it incorporated my passions,” said Stevie. “My marks were not as high as I needed them to be to get into Nutrition and Dietetics at University so I decided to have a gap year and work while I decided what else I wanted to do as a career.”
Stevie did some research during this time and found out that there are actually alternative admission schemes at different universities that can help you get into a degree without relying solely on your marks.
“I decided to give it a go and successfully got into a Bachelor of Science (nutrition) at the University of Wollongong” said Stevie. “After applying myself at university and really focusing to get the best marks I could, I was offered a transfer in my 3rd year into the Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics to become a qualified Dietitian.”
“As well as family and friends, I sought extra support through my university’s Indigenous centre and through external avenues such as IAHA,” said Stevie. “All of this helped me to not only do university but to stay until I had completed my degree. I can happily say in mid-2014 I finally graduated.”
Stevie shares some tips on overcoming challenges at University…
“I think it’s helpful to be aware that University isn’t easy, as I would have found University much less overwhelming if I had more of an idea what to expect when I started,” said Stevie. “Often you have to move away from home to study and you need to learn to work independently. Unlike high school there is no one there to tell you to do your work and you need to be organised. And I also didn’t realise how much textbooks, printing and stationary etc. would cost.”
“BUT there are many things you can do to stop these things from becoming issues and stressing you out,” said Stevie. “Firstly, you should be aware of what different scholarships you may be entitled to… This can help reduce the financial burden of moving away from home and buying text books and such things.”
“In my second year I had a part time job however it began to take over my study time and I failed a subject,” said Stevie. “I then found a scholarship which allowed me to focus on studies and thereafter I received only distinctions and high distinctions.”
“There are often tutoring services you can use to help keep you on track with assignments and exam preparation,” said Stevie. “I found if nothing else, having a tutor was fantastic for peace of mind to know you are on track and doing the right thing.”
“And lastly, if you have an Indigenous Centre at your chosen university, it is great to go there and introduce yourself,” said Stevie. “I found that the Indigenous Centre at my university was amazing as it helped me to make lots of friends who were also Indigenous and studying, so they had the same challenges to face as me, so it became almost a support network for me.”
“My family and friends were proud of me for deciding to go to University, as I am the first in the family to do so,” said Stevie. “In regards to choosing Nutrition and Dietetics as my career path, my family were excited to get free nutrition advice… Just kidding… I think initially when I told people I was becoming a Dietitian they weren’t entirely sure what a Dietitian was. But after describing the role to them they thought it suited me and were really enthusiastic, as many people in our community could benefit from Dietetic services and they really saw the value in what I was choosing to do.”
“What I love about dietetics is working with people, building rapport, getting to know all about them, then helping them to improve their quality of life by providing individualised nutrition and health related advice,” said Stevie.
“To anyone thinking of becoming a dietitian, I think you need to be prepared to put hard work in, as it is a competitive degree,” said Stevie. “But in the end the work is really rewarding and there are so many different avenues of employment you may pursue once becoming a qualified Dietitian; you can work in hospitals, food service, private practice, public health and many more areas.”
And now Stevie is excited to embark on her allied health career…
“Now that I’ve graduated I hope to be working full time as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian in a job that I absolutely love, working tirelessly to be the best Dietitian I can be,” said Stevie. “I have many innovative ideas and pathways relating to Dietetics that I would love to pursue in my local area.”