OT student awarded alongside his peers

A snap decision on the eve of enrolment has paid off well for occupational therapy student Harley Hayes.

Last week Harley was recognised at the Bendigo Campus’ annual prize ceremony with the Lynne Cooper Bendigo Regional Occupational Therapy Award for outstanding academic and professional placement achievement.

The fourth-year student enrolled in occupational therapy directly after completing VCE at Rochester Secondary College.

“Initially I wanted to study nutrition science at Deakin, then one night before transfers ended I decided to transfer to OT at La Trobe,” he said.

“I knew I wanted to work in health and I hadn’t looked into OT before but then I spoke to some occupational therapists in the break and I loved it. I also wanted to stay in Bendigo, I didn’t want to move to Melbourne. I wanted to make a difference and to work with people to help them achieve their goals. And I’ve always been into sport and interested in how the body works so I saw OT as the perfect fit,” he said

The award is also for students who have promoted OT within the university and wider community. Harley has been vice president of the Bendigo Occupational Therapy Association, a Bendigo Student Association board member and president of the La Trobe Rural Health Club.

“I’m also a La Trobe Ambassador, which gives me the opportunity to talk to lots of potential OT students,” he said. “A lot of students are interested in the health area but they don’t really know much about occupational therapy. Being in the course I can tell people about the great experience we get on placements, and that the course can lead to many things, like working in early intervention, mental health or even project management.”

Harley is now entering the last semester of his course and said he’s open as to what happens next.

“I’m very open to going anywhere,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed all my placements, from working in paediatrics to mental health to general OT roles in hospitals. I may move away to build my skills after the course but in the future I definitely hope to work in rural or regional Victoria.”

In the meantime, he said the scholarship will help get him through the final few months of study. “It will assist in covering the cost involved with attending placement, which is a fantastic opportunity to gain clinical experience but it can make it difficult to find time to work.”

La Trobe University’s Bendigo Campus awarded over $100,000 to 86 students at its annual prize ceremony at Ulumbarra Theatre on Thursday, July 27. A host of industry and private donors ensured local students were recognised for their academic merit, personal achievements and the barriers that sometimes need to be overcome to attend uni.

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