Nursing and Emergency Health student Gemma Casement has won the top academic prize in her year for the third year running.
The high-achieving student was "really surprised and thrilled" to discover she had gained high distinctions in all her units in 2010 and would be once again be awarded first prize for academic excellence at the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences prize night.
Gemma transferred from an Arts/Science degree into the Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Emergency Health at the Peninsula campus after deciding she needed a course that offered "more career direction." She expects to complete the degree at the end of this year.
Gemma said she was inspired by her mother who had been a nurse. "I saw that nursing was a social job with lots of interaction with patients and other health professionals."
She also learnt that nursing offered "the privilege and a responsibility to care for people when they are vulnerable."
Gemma described the course as "very interesting" and the lecturers "excellent" but said she was more academic and found the clinical placements challenging.
"Once you get out of that controlled classroom environment it can be a little scary, but it does allow you to marry up the practical skills you need with the theoretical."
She has recently been on placement in the emergency department at the Royal Children's Hospital and with Ambulance Victoria in Geelong.
Coordinator of the Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Emergency Health Dr Virginia Plummer said Gemma's consistently high grades demonstrated a commitment to her studies as well as a genuine intellectual curiosity.
"She is very bright and also a lovely person," Dr Plummer said. "She has a great career ahead of her."
Gemma hopes to complete a nursing graduate year in 2012 to consolidate her skills and will eventually work as a paramedic. She is also very interested in research and expects to return to academia.
The faculty awards will be presented at an official ceremony in May.