Socially minded researcher wins Rhodes scholarship

Freay 3A recently awarded Rhodes scholarship will pave the way for researcher Freya Shearer to pursue her goal of helping to alleviate world health issues.

Freya, who works as an Academic Support Officer at St John of God Murdoch Hospital, is excited about the prospect of combining her two passions of social justice and public health by studying a Masters in Global Health Science and Research at Oxford University.

“I am very interested in preventative health; in eradicating disease on a global scale through means such as vaccinations, community development programs and other preventative measures,” said Freya.

“This scholarship will give me the opportunity to build on my knowledge and skills so that I have the opportunity to work on that kind of scale and make a real difference to the lives of people from impoverished communities.”

This is the second time Freya has applied for the scholarship, attributing her experience at the hospital to giving her more confidence and helping her to become a better contender.

“My role in the emergency department at the hospital has included working on the continual improvement of patient flow and care, and communication within the department.”

“I am fortunate to have been working alongside some very experienced researchers and clinical staff at the hospital who are passionate about what they do,” said Freya.

For the 24-year old, embarking on this adventure is another addition to her already impressive list of achievements.

A University of Western Australia honours graduate in genetics and biochemistry, Freya became Street Team Coordinator for the Make Poverty History Roadtrip campaign in 2010 and Assistant Project leader for a Global Poverty Project campaign to eradicate polio during the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth.

“There are only three countries where polio is still endemic, so the goal felt very achievable,” said Freya. “It resulted in $118 million in funding so we were really pleased with the outcome.”

She later became non-profit organisation Upside’s Co-manager to improve health, education and economic development in rural Nepal and is currently there to check on progress.

In her free time, she coordinates weekly soccer matches for volunteers and detainees at the Perth Immigration Centre.

“I am really looking forward to connecting with people from different disciplines and gaining the skills I need to make my vision a reality.”

Freya plans to return to Perth for more study, this time in medicine at the University of Western Australia. She leaves for the UK next September.

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