Student life: Sofoni’s prescription for success

This is advertiser content from Charles Sturt University

Growing up just outside Wellington in central NSW, Sofoni West never dreamed of attending university. A job at her local pharmacy changed all of that. Sofoni has since excelled at CSU and received the CSU Pharmacy Foundation Scholarship.

I am a proud Aboriginal woman who grew up on a small reserve called Nanima, which is about five kilometres out of Wellington. My beautiful mother Tania is a single parent who raised five kids on her own. She raised us to know right from wrong, taught us to appreciate the little we had, to respect our elders and to honour our mum.

I completed Year 12 in 2004 and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was heading down the path of studying beauty but instead walked into Keirle’s Pharmacy asking for a job. Thankfully my boss, Roger Keirle, employed me the following week.

That’s when doors started to open for me.

I’ve now been there going on 10 years. In that time, I’ve grown to love the pharmacy and understand why it is important to help people. I like to challenge myself, love learning and love the Aboriginal community. Standing in the gap for them makes my job worthwhile.

My dream is to graduate from CSU and continue my work as a pharmacist in and remote areas. I see myself as a future role model and an inspiration to the Aboriginal people within the community.

Sofoni West

Rising to the challenge 

I have to admit that I found going back to study after so many years pretty hard.

I struggled to get my head around everything and learn how the system works. I have to thank my younger sister, Melle, who gave me lots of advice and lots of her time to get me through this. You’d think that should be the other way around!

Melle did a degree in social work in Wagga Wagga and graduated in 2014. She’s now a social worker at Centrelink in Dubbo.

I also thank my other sister, Clarissa, for supporting me throughout my degree. Clarissa is now studying to be a registered nurse through CSU in Dubbo.

We are the first ones in our family, the first generation, to go to university. After a while, when I actually found how to do it, university just got better and better.

I study at the Orange Campus and everybody there is amazing and supportive. I just love it.

Sofoni West and Vice Chancellor of Charles Sturt University, Professor Andrew Vann

Sofoni West and Vice Chancellor of Charles Sturt University, Professor Andrew Vann

Scholarship a confidence boost

To leave your full-time job to study full-time is hard, especially when you have been out of school for a long time. It can take a major toll on your life, whether that’s physically, mentally or emotionally.

I have to thank Heather Robinson, Head of Campus in Orange, who generously told me about the CSU Pharmacy Foundation Scholarship. It’s just amazing – people know you because the campus is small.

Many people applied for the scholarship and they chose me. I was shocked and overwhelmed and I started thinking, “Maybe I can do this. I can do this!”

The struggle you face living as a full-time student is not easy. This scholarship will provide the help and support I need to get me through Session 2 and even next year. The thought of not having to worry and stress about being in financial hardship brings joy to my heart. I am forever thankful.

It’s one less thing I have to worry about and it allows me to focus on my studies. I got my results back for Session 1 and I had passed all my subjects!

I want to say a massive thank you to all those who are involved in the CSU Pharmacy Foundation. Without these scholarships available to students, study like this would not be possible. It’s an amazing opportunity they’ve given me.

If I can do it so can you. You can do anything when you put your mind to it.

This is advertiser content from Charles Sturt University