VETERINARY studies graduate Kylie Snowden-Tucker was awarded the WA Health Professional of the Year award during NAIDOC week celebrations last week.
Ms Snowden-Tucker, a woman of Kamilaroi/Ngemba descent and mother of three, said she was honoured to be a recipient of the award and thanked Murdoch University for developing the program which helped get her to this point in her life.
At the age of 21, with no TEE behind her and a young child to support, Ms Snowden-Tucker was accepted into Murdoch as part of the university’s indigenous support program.
The program provides additional support for students of aboriginal and Torres Strait islander descent, giving them an additional year of study in which they bridge some of the learning gaps.
The road to success was not easy.
Shortly after starting her course, Ms Snowden-Tucker fell pregnant with her second child.
“I had terrible morning sickness during my exams and nearly couldn’t complete them because of it,” she said.
There were times when she nearly quit the course as she struggled to balance family demands with the heavy time demands of full time veterinary science studies.
“What the university did to provide support was really important. You have access to your own support group and you get additional tutoring in some subjects to help get you up to university level.
“Without that help I couldn’t have contemplated doing this degree,” Ms Snowden-Tucker said.
Nearly a decade later, Ms Snowden-Tucker has graduated with honours in animal welfare and spent the last year working for the Department of Agriculture in Moora doing mainly large animal work.
“I always loved animals and used to go and help out at the local pet store when I was younger, so when my auntie came back from a women’s support group with a brochure about getting into Murdoch to do veterinary science through the indigenous program, I didn’t hesitate.
“I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do and I didn’t stop to think about how long it was going to take or how hard it might be. When I got the opportunity I just grabbed it.”
Ms Snowden-Tucker said the support of her husband, her family and the university were all critical to her success.
“It was really hard sometimes for them, and it took me a long time to be able to balance it all.
“I would come back from uni with my head still thinking about what I needed to do and at first I didn’t spend time with the family because I was so focussed on my studies.
“By about the middle of my third year I started to realise that I needed to separate some time for the family so I decided that for a few hours after I came home I would dedicate myself to them.
“I would still be thinking about my course and what I needed to do, but I wouldn’t act on it until later in the night.”
Ms Snowden-Tucker said she never studied the necessary TEE subjects because people told her she would never make it as a vet.
“I was really lucky that Murdoch’s veterinary school has a program that provides a pathway for Aboriginal students,” she saod
She encouraged others to have a look at the pathways provided by Murdoch to help Aboriginal students.