Regional students face unique challenges not usually experienced by those living in major cities. Leanne, one of our QTAC applicants and a 2022 Year 12 graduate from Innisfail in Far North Queensland, shares her story as an inspiration to other regional students. Leanne’s hard work at school and her excellent Year 12 results paid off when she received an offer for her first preference course, the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at James Cook University in Townsville. 

Having experienced first-hand the limited health services in rural areas, Leanne says she always wanted to make a difference in rural communities. It is also why her first preference was a medicine course with a focus on rural health. “For me the course was more important than the university. If I had received my second or third preference, I would still be happy since the end goal of becoming a health professional in order to help others in times of need would be more important to me than the university.”  

One of Leanne’s biggest motivations for study during Year 11 and Year 12 was her desire to pursue a degree in health. Noting that, if she had missed out on an offer for medicine this year, her Plan B was to study Pharmacy as a pathway to Medicine. 

Studying at a small school in a regional area can be more challenging since there is often less availability of services, resources, and teachers. Leanne’s message to other rural students is that, despite the challenges you can still do well in your studies. “It is not impossible. You are more capable than what you think you are!”  

What I achieved is far greater than what I thought was possible. You are much greater than you think you are.

When asked about her Year 12 experience, Leanne said, “overall, it was quite an enjoyable year. As a regional student, studying locally meant that I got to spend my final year with the support of my family, friends, teachers, and my lovely school community at Good Counsel College, Innisfail.” 

Leanne was quick to note that she couldn’t have achieved her goal without the support of family. “My sisters were always the first to hear about my day, to kindly remind myself to keep studying and made sure that I was taking care of myself and give me a hug if I needed it. Even though my older sister was away at university, she sorted out everything for my Year 12 formal – dress, shoes and makeup! 

Playing the piano for a school audience is daunting at the best of times, but playing for her College Masses and other events was a particularly important achievement for Leanne, who is largely self-taught player. I began teaching myself piano from Grade 9 since my older sister, who was the main musician for the College, graduated, and so the College needed someone to fill her shoes. Music lessons were quite expensive and living in a rural area meant that there were not many music teachers available. I took up the challenge of teaching myself piano and began by choosing it as a subject in Grade 9. After learning theory and practising at home, I eventually became good enough and was able to play in front of other people for College Masses and on show days.”

Leanne will be making the big move away from home in Innisfail to Townsville to take up her place in her medicine course in February 2023. “What I’m looking forward to most is being with like-minded people and studying a course that I am passionate about. It will be amazing to hear other students’ stories and I’m looking forward to making life-long friendships.” 

High school isn't everything, and that one number (your ATAR) doesn't determine your worth as a person or the great things that you have in mind to achieve. ‘No’ just means ‘next option’ and ‘fail’ means ‘first attempt in learning’.

If you have an inspiring and interesting story to share about how you (or someone you know) got to university or further study, or how your study went – we’d love to hear from you.