With a grandad who worked in health education and a mum who works in the medical industry, Olivia Fox knew from an early age she wanted to help people make healthier lifestyle and diet choices. She also knew she didn't want to wait until she graduated with a university degree before she started making a difference.
"Tutorials and lectures can teach you important skills and help build confidence when working with groups, but gaining experience applying these skills in a professional workplace environment is where I have found the real value," Olivia says.
That experience came as part of a core public health subject that saw Olivia go on placement to The Heart Foundation of Australia one day a week for a whole semester.
"My time with the Heart Foundation was so valuable to see how those types of organisations work and what is involved in real life health promotion and health advocacy," she says.
As part of her placement Olivia collaborated with UOW Digital Media student, Jonny Lynch to create a video to raise awareness about the detrimental impacts too much sitting can have on our health.
"I was involved in creating a social media video campaign for the Heart Foundation that promoted the importance of physical activity, aligning with their 'Move More, Sit Less' campaign," she says. "I hope this video (shown below) generates buzz online about physical activity and helps to promote the benefits of sitting less."
With Australia facing a major chronic disease epidemic, Olivia hopes the video is just the start of exploring the use of new platforms to engage with the public about the importance of being more physically active.
"I hope that it acts as a talking point to keep physical activity at the front of everyone's minds and at the front of health promotion," she says
Beyond university Olivia wants to create a cookbook of healthy and affordable meals for young people and university students.
"When I first moved out of home I found it pretty hard to eat a healthy balanced diet,” she says. "So I would love to use my skills in nutrition and my personal experiences to create a cookbook that simplifies healthy eating and shows that it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to create delicious meals that are also really good for you."
No matter what path Olivia chooses, the practical experience she has been able to gain will have her well placed for a career in public health.
"Being able to learn these professional skills before I go out to find a job is so crucial in shaping myself as a potential employee."
If you want to start making a difference before you graduate, check out the range of Public Health degrees at UOW that QILT ranked as the best in New South Wales and the ACT for Health Services and Support in 2016.