Having immigrated to Australia at the age of five, Sophia van der Laan watched as her father started his PhD at the University of Southern Queensland.
More than a decade on, Ms van der Laan has followed in his footsteps, diving into a three-year biomedical science degree at the University.
She now has her sights set on a career in medicine.
“Watching my dad study his PhD inspired me to work hard at school,” Ms van der Laan said.
“I always knew I wanted to do medicine and was thinking of trying to get provisional entry.
“Then I heard about the course and scholarships at the University of Southern Queensland, which were a changing point for me.
“It meant that I could study and stay at home.”
Ms van der Laan got her first taste of life on campus while still at school, after signing up for one of the University’s Head Start programs.
“As a kid, I was always very arty, I paint and play music, but I liked science – so it was hard to pick between the two,” she said.
“For my Head Start program, I chose to do world history to the 1500s.
“Although I didn’t decide to take that career path, coming onto campus and being a part of it all was so much fun.”
After graduating from school, Ms van der Laan filled in her application to the University and, with a stellar ATAR score, was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship.
“I was so overjoyed when I heard they awarded me the scholarship, it was a big help for me,” she said
“My mum was so excited and my father, who still works at the University, was very proud - now I’m able to go up and have a coffee with him after my tutorials.”
Now in her first year at the University, Ms van der Laan said she was enjoying her studies.
“I’ve realised that science, to a degree, has a very creative aspect to it and I love I can get the best of both worlds,” she said.
“Here at the University, people are doing projects such as grafting human organs, and I think that requires a lot of innovation.
“Although I’m not sure which pathway I will take, I’ve always considered something like plastic surgery because it requires artistic detail with skin grafts.
“The University has been a perfect choice for me too, it’s great for personalised learning.”
Discover the wonder of the human body and unlock countless career paths with a degree of Biomedical Science at the University of Southern Queensland.
This program is the perfect stepping stone for students wanting to undertake the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT); it also provides the knowledge and skills to enter professional courses such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, physiotherapy and veterinary science.
Find out more about studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Science.
University of Southern Queensland biomedical student Sophia van der Laan has her sights set on a career in medicine. (UniSQ Photography)