For Johanna Scully (Class of 2015), working as a physiotherapist has reaffirmed her belief that we should ‘celebrate all the wins’.
Being in her fourth year of practising physiotherapy, Johanna’s clients are young children with complex disabilities, and she supports their growth, development, and independence.
“I love what I do, and I love helping the children and families learn and grow together,” Johanna said.
“My favourite part is watching what amazing barriers these children can overcome and achieve; they inspire me every day with their perseverance, positivity, and hard work.”
Johanna herself is a source of inspiration and positivity, overcoming the drastically life-changing loss of her mum, Colleen Scully, to Breast Cancer while Johanna was in Year 12.
“This experience, as awful as it was, helped me to realise so many incredible things about myself and those around me,” Johanna said.
“I realised I was surrounded by so many kind, caring, and supportive people…I also discovered that as small as I was, I could still make a positive impact on others’ lives.”
Determined to assist others, and with the cause close to her heart, Johanna and her friend, Kate Chappell, tried their hands at fundraising for the Cancer Council.
“Initially, we didn’t know what we were doing – all our friends would chip in to help us out – but after many years we improved our fundraising and organisational skills,” said Johanna.
“We ended up creating some awesome events, possibly five or six in total, and raised (at a guess) about $10,000 for the Cancer Council.”
Johanna said St Ursula’s College helped her develop introductory skills that assisted her fundraising efforts.
“I definitely think the foundational abilities like studying and time management were important and helpful, but I also learnt so much about leadership, friendship, the importance of community, and about being a better me,” said Johanna.
Career-wise, apart from knowing she wanted to help people, Johanna said she had no clear idea what to study at university, and ‘accidently stumbled on physiotherapy and decided to give it a go’.
“I went to CQUniversity and absolutely loved my Bachelor and Physiotherapy degree,” Johanna said.
“Using my brain and problem-solving, meeting so many cool people, travelling to different places around Queensland for my practicals; it was great!
“Of course, there were also hard times, late nights, excessive ice-cream consumption and a lot of moments of growth.”
Johanna worked part-time as a swimming teacher while studying at university, crediting her mum as the inspiration behind the decision.
“My mum inspired me to work with children…the way she so naturally interacted with them and helped them to learn and grow made me want to follow in her footsteps,” Johanna said.
“Swim teaching was something I was always interested in doing in the short term as I enjoyed teaching children and also had a background in swimming.”
After completing her degree, Johanna secured a position as a physiotherapist in a private practice in Rockhampton.
The outbreak of Covid-19 – just two months into her on the job learning – resulted in a learning curve of a different kind, with face-to-face client consultations replaced with online video conferencing.
After navigating her way through Covid restrictions and hefty caseloads in the first two years post-university, Johanna said she was grateful for the experience as it helped her become more adaptable.
“It was a situation where I had to be flexible with my learning and development in order to succeed,” said Johanna.
“I think back to my teachers at St Ursula’s; each staff member had a unique approach to education and rapport building with their students, and I value all of them for that.
“The families I work with have shown me that success looks different for us all and we should be celebrating all wins, not take them for granted.
“The wins, no matter how small, are so incredible, and the losses, as hard as they may be, can still be opportunities for growth and learning hidden in disguise.”