GAF Story

Ruby Schembri

James Cook University
Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours)

R Schembri JCU 2022

In her second year of study for a Bachelor of Pharmacy, JCU scholar Ruby shares her reflections on the benefit of a gap year, pharmacy studies, and one of her future career goals. 

What motivated you to study for a Bachelor of Pharmacy?

I grew up in a small country town in the central west of New South Wales and worked at the local pharmacy during my final year at high school. After finishing high school, I was accepted into a couple of different courses, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, so I took a gap year. I moved to Townsville, and after continuing to work in community pharmacy, I found it had all the aspects I liked in a job and that it would be an interesting career. I decided to enrol at JCU, and, as it turned out, I was attending the best pharmacy program in Queensland, so looking back, I have found everything happens for a reason!”

What did you get up to in your gap year?

I graduated high school at the end of 2019, right before COVID flipped the world upside down, so I was lucky enough to do a little bit of travelling once I graduated. I went to Europe for a little longer than a month and visited 11 countries!

While I technically did have a gap year, it was more like a gap of six months. In New South Wales, prerequisites for study do not exist at most universities. When moving to Queensland, I realised this was not the case, so I did two preparation subjects for Maths A and Chemistry at JCU for a semester before enrolling for the Bachelor of Pharmacy. The most valuable thing my gap year gave me was a bit of time, time to talk to people within the professions that interest me and the space to decide what I really wanted to study after a stressful final year at school. It was truly invaluable, and I recommend a gap year to anyone unsure of their plans after finishing school. 

How are your studies going?

I am in the second year of my pharmacy studies and so far, I have had a really positive experience. The course itself is challenging and can be demanding; however, I have loved it, and it only reaffirms that I am on the right career path. The pharmacy faculty has a hands-on and interactive approach when it comes to our studies. My favourite part of the course so far is our compounding classes, where we get to formulate solutions such as eye and ear drops, creams and ointments, which is a lot of fun.

How has a George Alexander Foundation scholarship helped during your time at university? 

The GAF Scholarship eases the added financial stressors that come with a university degree. As a full-time university student, there are always mandatory textbooks and placement requirements that add up. The scholarship helps me access resources that help me succeed in my studies and really focus on learning while fully immersing myself in university life.

Do you have any big-picture goals for the future? 

Now more than ever, it is such an exciting time to enter the field of pharmacy. The industry is forever changing and evolving, and I am really excited to see what the future of pharmacy holds for me.

I have always envisioned owning and running my own community pharmacy, where I work closely with other health professionals in the community, such as doctors and dietitians, to provide my patients with the best care possible.

Community pharmacists are the most accessible health professionals to the public and play an important role in providing patient care services. A sector of pharmacy that interests me greatly is postpartum care for both mothers and their babies. I believe there is a gap in maternal and newborn pharmacy services, and I would love to do training in this area. 

Stirling Jeans, RMIT University scholar. Young man in grey shirt.
Georgia McDonald, Griffith University Scholar. Young woman wearing a red top smiling and standing in front of a lake.
Tara Cherian, JCU scholar during work experience placement

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