Health Alumni

Health Alumni Chapter

Alumni profiles

We are interested in hearing from our graduates and hope that, as you read through the profiles on these pages, you might like to let us know what you have been doing since studying at Deakin University (or its antecedent institutions). Please contact us on if you would like to be profiled.

Andrea Hernan

After finishing her Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion in 2008, Andrea Hernan now works as a Research Assistant at the Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health (GGT UDRH). In her role at the GGT UDRH Andrea contributes to research projects on diabetes prevention, youth mental health service delivery and recruitment and retention of allied health professionals.

Andrea is particularly enjoying the diversity within her job and the opportunities she has to contribute to a wide variety of projects and learn from experts in her field.

‘The most enjoyable aspect of my job is the diversity that exists within it. I have been involved in many of the projects at different stages of development from concept development to writing for publication. Some of the tasks which I have undertaken include literature reviews, data entry and analysis, report writing, writing for publication, presenting at conferences, grant writing and health policy strategy development.’

‘At the UDRH I feel that I am at the forefront of innovative and exciting research activities, and have had the chance to learn from some of the best national and international researchers who are experts in their field.’

Studying at Deakin:
During her studies at Deakin, Andrea felt well supported and developed a strong sense of her future career path and where her degree would take her.

‘Whilst at Deakin I was supported, encouraged and challenged to do my best. The learning environment and the variety of subjects to choose from were very appealing to me. I was able to learn from the ‘best in the business’ and this helped to consolidate my career pathway as I could clearly see where I was going, and what I wanted to do.

‘I also enjoyed the opportunities to be involved in social activities and events, and make new friends who were interested in similar things to me. In addition, the networking opportunities and contacts I have made at Deakin are invaluable, and will certainly help in progressing my career in public health and/or health promotion research.’

Deakin facilities and staff:
‘I was very impressed with the facilities at Deakin and made use of all the latest technologies available to students, such as recorded lectures, online tutorials and discussion boards and Deakin Studies Online (DSO).’

‘The staff were absolutely fantastic! Not only were they very approachable when you were experiencing difficulty or needed one-on-one assistance, they were passionate and enthusiastic about the topics they taught. They inspired me to be the best that I could and guided me to a career in public health and health promotion.’ 

Recommending Deakin:
‘I would definitely recommend Deakin to anyone who is thinking about choosing a university that is student friendly, employs great staff, and utilises the latest information and technology to promote further study in an exciting learning environment.’

Erin Woodman

Course:H300 Bachelor of Health Sciences at Deakin, completed 2006
Further study: H400 Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours), completed 2007
Campus:Melbourne Burwood Campus

Career path:
After graduating from the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) in 2007, Erin Woodman commenced a job as the Men’s Health Promotion Coordinator with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA).

Erin’s role involves managing all aspects of the National Men’s Health Ambassador Speaker Program, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing under the National Continence Management Strategy, National Men’s Continence Awareness Project.
‘My role varies from day to day. It includes liaising with government, PCFA staff and community organisations; marketing the program; planning events and training programs, welcoming Ambassadors to training in every state and territory and supporting ambassadors in the community.’

‘The most rewarding thing about my job is working with a national team of volunteers devoted to raising awareness of prostate health and continence health. The Ambassador Program is very exciting as it truly has the capacity to change people’s lives.’

Studying at Deakin:
‘Throughout high school I was very interested in health and psychology and knew that I wanted to pursue this path further. Deakin offered the Bachelor of Health Sciences, a generic health degree that would allow me to shape the course how I wanted. The course was very flexible and allowed me to choose my major areas of study. I chose to major in Health Promotion, Psychology and Disability Studies.’

‘I enjoyed the flexibility of the course, which allowed me to choose subjects that I thought I would enjoy, and to choose subjects from a wide range of areas. I was not confined to undertaking subjects from a particular area, which was great as it allowed me to pursue several areas to discover where I wanted my career to go.’

‘My degree at Deakin allowed me to learn the theory of health promotion, psychology and disability studies. Completing many group assignments, I also learnt how to work as part of a team. My practical placement in the health industry was important as it allowed me to apply the theory I had learnt throughout my degree in a practical setting.’

Undertaking an honours year:
‘Undertaking an additional honours year in my degree was invaluable as it allowed me to further develop my research skills, develop networks and build relationships within the health industry and gain experience working independently on a research project of my choice whilst being supported by my supervisors and fellow honours students. The honours year also allowed me to develop writing skills and gain further confidence in public speaking.’

Recommending Deakin:
‘I would definitely recommend that students look into what Deakin University has to offer when they are applying for university degrees. Important things to look at are staff support, requirements, online support, facilities, car parking, study areas, library, computer labs etc. and Deakin offers all of this.’

Merissa Judkins

Graduated: Deakin University, Bachelor of Applied Science (Health Promotion) completed 2006
(now known as the Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion)
Works: Eastern Ranges GP (General Practitioner) Association,GP Services Officer

The most rewarding part of the job:
‘is having access to the wider population on issues such as mental health through GPs.’

I was lucky that Deakin:
‘was so flexible and allowed me time out after the very first semester to think about career options – I deferred for 12 months to look around and be sure that health promotion was really what I wanted to do. When I came back it was as if I never left.’

A lecturer inspired me:
‘to get into the social and mental health side of things. It was great to be taught by people who are so passionate.’

Deakin has industry links:
‘not only for getting professional placements but they were also very supportive in keeping us up to date with jobs and marketplace information.’

An unexpected bonus was:
‘my third year placement becoming my first job after graduation!’

Deakin gave me:
‘all the health promotion fundamentals and knowledge for my job, but skills such as communication and presentation were also emphasised.’

As a result: ‘I draw on my knowledge and other skills learnt at Deakin 100 per cent – daily, even hourly!’

Jessica McCormick

Course: Bachelor of Applied Science (Health Scicences), completed 2001
Further cources: Bachelor of Applied Science (Family and Consumer Studies) (Honours), completed 2002
Doctor of Philosophy, completed 2006

A keen interest in the intricacies of families, the way they function and their vital role in society has taken on new meaning for Jessica McCormick. In her studies for a Bachelor of Applied Science (Health Sciences) degree at Deakin's Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Jessica became increasingly interested in government policy development and the processes by which change can be initiated. To that end, Jessica undertook her Honours with a focus on health impact assessment and the aim to develop a tool to identify and analyse the impact of policy on health.

Jessica majored in family and consumer studies, which covers a broad range of issues such as parenting, employment, education, as well as social, economic and environmental factors. Health promotion was a second major and provided a more holistic insight into health and wellbeing. 'I knew I wanted to be involved in the health profession and Deakin offered the family and consumer studies major, which was not widely available', Jessica explains.

Jessica thrived on the course and won a string of awards for excellence in her studies. A high achiever and not one to rest on her laurels, Jessica was delighted when she was accepted for Honours. 'I wanted to build on the knowledge I had gained through the course and also explore in greater depth the issue of family violence', says Jessica.

A Health Sciences summer research scholarship in which Jessica assisted one of her lecturers on a large project added fuel to her interest in health impact assessment. Jessica describes the scholarship as a fantastic experience because it gave her the opportunity to work with a lecturer in research and also network with other professionals.  

Work placements, which are taken as electives, were another highlight of Jessica's undergraduate years. Jessica worked at the Centre for Adolescent Health and the Centre for Community Child Health, both of which are under the umbrella of the Royal Children's Hospital. 'The work placement was so rewarding because our contributions were highly valued', Jessica notes. 'We were able to contribute our theoretical understandings of the field and at the same time gain a practical appreciation for the different settings and their budgetary and social constraints',

To those considering the course, Jessica urges prospective students to be open to the different experiences offered through the range of units available. Government policy was not something that would have grabbed Jessica's attention initially, but the policy unit has really fuelled her passion and the tools to implement change.

Matthew Cameron

Graduated: Deakin University Bachelor of Applied Science* (Health Promotion), 2006
* Now Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion.

Highlight: Placement at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health, Carlton
Matthew Cameron is the first to say that his final year professional placement at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health was a challenge.

‘It took a while to get the hang of the workplace,’ he said. ‘But it was great to see that all I had learnt was relevant to the real world. I was almost surprised to find people talking about the stuff I’d learnt as part of their everyday!

‘I was lucky to be given some meaty things to do. For example, I did an interesting research project that looked into healthy eating among migrant groups and I had to really draw on my skills from Deakin to investigate the issues and present my findings in a report.’

Eleni Karantzas, Matthew’s placement supervisor at the centre, said the placement gave students a feel for what health promotion work entailed.
‘It is invaluable for building much needed confidence and knowledge of the field and for applying some of this theory in a practical way,’ she said.
For Matthew, the placement was a real turning point. ‘Even though I have only just graduated, the placement has made me feel like more of a health professional than a health student,’ he said.

‘This will really help when I am applying for jobs. It was a big step in confidence to realise that I could contribute something important within an organisation.’

Barbara Lloyd
Master of Arts (Disability Studies) by Research 1996

Barbara is the Executive Officer of ASHCARE Inc where she has a management role and overall responsibility for compliance with respect to regulations, organisational structure, budget, WorkCover, staff management, case management and all aspects of resident support as well as the day-to-day management of the organisation.

Accommodation and support services are provided for the 21 people in ASHCARE’s three residences. Barbara is responsible for staff management and training ensuring excellent standards are maintained in all aspects of resident health and lifestyle support.

Barbara regularly networks with other providers and disability services in the Eastern Metro region and participates as a non-government organisational representative on reviews and panels organised by the Disability Planning and Partnership Program of DHS.

Completion of the course helped Barbara make the transition from the government to the non-government sector in her particular area of study. She is a strong believer in the encouragement of practitioners to become involved in management.

'Here at ASHCARE, we focus on our mission statement and the highly developed sense of community to meet the needs of people with severe and multiple disabilities. The skills I developed during my course have enabled me to work with staff teams to reach our goals. In the future, I see myself moving into the advocacy area where I can liaise with the peak body in the disability services sector and respond to the strategic directions of disability services in general.'

Currently Deakin is working in partnership with the disability services sector across Victoria and fosters a supportive environment for research in this area.

Deakin Alumni Profiles

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14th March 2012