A NURSING graduate has been recognised for overcoming adversities as a refugee and kickstarting her health care career within four years of arriving in Australia.
After witnessing a high HIV-AIDS prevalence and a lack of medical resources in her hometown of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Zandile Mlilo was inspired to become a nurse.
She did not know anyone when she migrated to Australia in 2017, having moved away from her family to study a bachelor of nursing at Charles Sturt University.
Ineligible for HELP assistance, she was awarded the 2018 Agnes Tansey 'lifting the barriers' refugee scholarship which covered food, accommodation and expenses associated with study of up to $47,000.
After four years of study, this month she conferred along with 3890 CSU graduates and became the first in her family to gain a tertiary degree.
"It still has not sunk in yet that I'm actually doing this, it's a big deal for me," she said. "It means doors opening for me, it means I get to change the lives of people ... in our community."
Having secured a spot in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District's nursing graduate program, Ms Mlilo has already laid the foundations to fulfill her dream.
"One thing I know for sure is that I want to be a nurse, but I still have not decided what type of nursing," she said. "I would like to be a nurse practitioner in the next 10 years and would love to work within my local community of Wagga Wagga."
The achievements of Ms Mlilo and her fellow graduates will be celebrated at a postponed graduation ceremony next year.
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Born and raised within the Riverina, Hayley launched her journalism career at The Daily Advertiser in September 2021. During her time she covered events, entertainment and human interest stories.
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