Former Bundy girl comes home to work
AN OUT-of-the-blue Facebook conversation was the catalyst that turned Lauren Pratt's life around.
The former Kepnock State High School student has returned to Bundaberg to work as an occupational therapist after finishing a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) in October through the University of the Sunshine Coast.
The degree wasn't Ms Pratt's first choice.
"I initially moved to Brisbane to begin a nursing degree after leaving school in 2012 but after my first year I knew nursing was not my thing and returned home,” Ms Pratt, 22, said.
She then had a conversation with Shalom College graduate Rachael Anderson over Facebook, which sealed her fate.
"I still wanted to work in the health field, so when I heard from mutual friends that Rachael was studying occupational therapy at USC, I got in touch to discuss the program,” she said.
"Rachael raved about OT and USC's degree and after hearing how much she was loving it, I was persuaded to enrol.
"We have gone from never meeting while growing up in Bundaberg to taking almost identical study and career paths, becoming good friends and now being professional colleagues as well.”
After completing her USC degree in 2015, Ms Anderson, 23, also returned to the Wide Bay region to work as an occupational therapist with the Department of Education and Training in state schools in Maryborough.
Both women were USC student ambassadors during their studies, sharing their university experiences and insights with high school students and their parents.
Ms Anderson said she had no hesitation in recommending USC's occupational therapy degree.
"My degree was a very positive experience for me. I loved all of the support from the lecturers and the many opportunities for practical experience,” she said.
Ms Pratt also found the program's emphasis on early practical experience to be a major advantage.
"I completed 1000 hours of clinical placement, including a final prac at Bundaberg Hospital,” she said.
"The placements were an excellent opportunity to further my knowledge base and to get real-life experience as an occupational therapist.”