Kristi Brinkman is a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy student seeking a rewarding and therapeutic career where she can help others
Kristi Brinkman, a student occupational therapist, was building a career helping others during her first undergraduate degree when her life changed unexpectedly and set her on the path to a second degree, the Bachelor of Occupation Therapy.
“In the last semester of my final year of Health Science, my mother passed away very suddenly from bowel cancer which impacted my family and myself greatly,” she says.
“While my mother was in hospital, I would study for exams in her hospital room and care for her, and as a result I found that care can be therapeutic and rewarding.
“When she passed, I wanted to continue to be that person for other people.”
Kristi’s health science degree helped her find a role as a carer that she still holds today. She says it was this job and the advice of student colleagues that helped her decide on taking up occupational therapy.
“I found my calling – to care for people – and knew it was something I could do for the rest of my life,” she says.
“In my first degree I was heavily involved with life on campus, running a student club and becoming very involved with the Griffith community. When I reached out to some student occupational therapists to find out what the degree and their future careers held, I realised it fit me like a glove.
“I sit in class each day and know in my heart that I’m in the right place and I never would have gotten here if Griffith hadn’t given me so many opportunities.”
Originally from South Africa, Kristi’s family moved to the Gold Coast when she was 17. Before her move, she volunteered throughout her school years, participating in community outreach, blood drives, and as a youth leader for her local church. She says the Griffith campus reminds her of that community spirit she held in South Africa.
“I love how alive the campus is – Griffith has created a safe and dynamic multicultural environment that considers the growth of each and every student,” she says.
“There are so many opportunities for students to get involved through clubs, mentoring, volunteer opportunities and roles in and around campus.
“There’s obviously a focus on helping students achieve academically, but there’s also a focus on student mental wellbeing, and the safe spaces that the teachers, tutors and staff create enables students to push boundaries and challenge the norm and aspire to do and be better.”
Kristi’s advice to other students or anyone considering a science or allied health degree is simple: you can do it.
“Anything is possible if you work hard, have passion, and give yourself enough time,” she says.
“I didn’t believe I was smart enough to do my first degree in health science, but it’s just like learning to play a musical instrument: it’s scary when you starts but the more you work at it and the more you practice, the better and more beautiful it becomes.
“You can do it, you are smart and capable, and owe it to yourself to have a go. Good luck!”