Small town girl with big dreams

Growing up on a small reserve just outside Wellington, NSW, Sofoni West never dreamed of attending university.

Sofoni was raised to be a proud Aboriginal woman by her single mother, who also taught her the value of respect and hard work from a young age.

After she finished Year 12, Sofoni was unsure about her next move. She applied for a job at the town pharmacy and her manager saw her potential to move up the ladder and help improve people’s health. He encouraged her to aspire to a university education and becoming a qualified pharmacist.

Although excited to begin her tertiary education after so many years in the workforce, Sofoni found the transition into academic life challenging. But the Pharmacy Foundation Scholarship – a one-off payment of $5000 available to students in their first year of the Bachelor of Pharmacy – made things that little bit easier.

“So 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!’

Sofoni wants to use the knowledge and practical skills gained at Charles Sturt University to help shape the world into a better place.

“I’ve grown to love pharmacy and understand why it’s 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.

“I want to play a role in closing the gap between the local Indigenous community and non-Indigenous people, and between the patient and health professionals.”

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