To mark 2018 International Women’s Day, NCWQ is profiling an impressive women each day in the lead up to and including around the 8th March. These featured young women are past NCWQ Bursary Recipients, and have demonstrated incredible leadership, success, community service, intelligence and commitment to their personal and professional passions. In today’s feature, past bursary recipient Megan Collis shares her thoughts.
To learn more about the bursary program, keep an eye on our website in the coming month or two.
What were the benefits to you in being a 2017 NCWQ bursary recipient?
There was the monetary benefit, obviously, which allowed me to buy a new computer to replace my very old and outdated one, plus textbooks and a lot of very late night dinners coming home exhausted from long hours at uni.
The bursary was an extra achievement to put on my resume, and last year I was became employed at Queensland Health, working in the mental health units at Ipswich Hospital.
But there was also the validation that the new life I had been creating with my volunteer work and studies was valued. It was something tangible that I could look at on the hard days, when I wanted to give up, to remind me that, actually, I wasn’t a failure.
What are your goals for this year?
I was accepted into the Master of Counselling at USQ, so working my way through that is one of my big goals this year, and I have gotten the attention of the Master’s coordinator with my desire to get proactive counselling for people with chronic illnesses; this is the topic I would like to research for my thesis, if possible.
Both my personal experiences as a person with complex chronic illnesses, the experiences of friends who deal with chronic illness, and my volunteer work in the Stroke and Rehab ward at the hospital has convinced me that there is a great need to offer counselling to people in hospital, and at points of deterioration in their chronic diseases. At present there is limited psychological support on offer, with hospital psychologists and social workers overburdened, and medical staff too busy and not well trained in delivering emotional support to patients adjusting to new diagnoses. I believe counsellors could fill that gap and help both patients and clinicians understand each other’s perspectives better.
I am also getting more opportunities to be a health consumer representative, in various committees and focus groups, which I hope to build on through the year. I believe it is vital that health consumers have a voice in their healthcare.
Lastly, I hope to continue to be an ambassador for SMART Recovery Australia, the organisation that helped me overcome my addictive behaviours and instilled in me the belief that I was a person of worth and value. In an incredible twist of fate, the woman who trained me to become a facilitator for the organisation was also my nurse, when I was a child undergoing treatment for cancer. I fly to Sydney this week to be interviewed with her, for The Sydney Morning Herald’s weekly magazine article, ‘The Two of Us’.
What is your personal mantra or self-talk that you use to keep yourself on track in pursuing your aspirations?
I have two:
1. Fall down seven times, get up eight.
2. One day at a time.
Who have been your most significant woman role models?
My role model is an unsung hero; her name is Sharon Majerovic. A psychologist with Drug ARM, she was also the facilitator of the SMART Recovery group I was once a member of (and now co-facilitate). When I entered my first SMART Recovery meeting I was broken, bitter and completely devoid of belief that life could ever be good; I was surviving, not living. It was her consistent calm kindness, respect, positivity and unwavering faith in me that finally led me to believe I could make positive changes and create a new life for myself that I could never have envisaged; it was her suggestion I consider a career in counselling. Although a promotion to Clinical Lead at Drug ARM has meant we no longer co-facilitate meetings together, and don’t see each other often, we are still in contact and she still provides guidance, both personally and professionally, when I need. I owe her everything.