Growing up playing netball, basketball and tennis, sometimes all on the same day, it’s little wonder Port Hedland triplets Roberta, Lauren and Jacinta decided to become physiotherapists.
The Ramirez-Smith sisters joined ten of their peers last night as the first cohort to graduate from the Indigenous Pre-Medicine and Health Sciences Enabling Course at Curtin. They are now set to begin their first year of an undergraduate degree in physiotherapy when classes start in late February.
“It was always a passion of ours to become physiotherapists, mainly because up north in Port Hedland I know there’s no permanent physio, they’re always fly-in fly-out, and I know that my family always have problems so we kind of just wanted to give back,” says Roberta.
Roberta and her sisters chose Curtin’s enabling course because it’s specifically designed for Indigenous students who want to seek a career in health sciences, but may not have achieved the ATAR they wanted for instant entry to the University.
“I really enjoyed the course, I thought it was good, especially before jumping straight into an undergraduate degree, I thought it gave a good experience of uni,” Roberta says.
“I did find it challenging, I struggled a bit with some of the units, but they have a great support system at CAS [Centre for Aboriginal Studies] and the tutors were excellent, they helped us a lot.”
Though Lauren admits they have the occasional sisterly argument, she says it has been an advantage to have instant friends and study partners.
“When we were studying at home we could quiz and test each other, which was really helpful; we were each other’s study resources,” she says.
“When we go to uni, we’re obviously the first friends we make because we’re sisters, and we don’t have to go anywhere by ourselves,” adds Jacinta.
At just 18 years of age, the Ramirez-Smith sisters already have big plans for when they become qualified physiotherapists.
“We thought about starting up our own physiotherapy business together, because we would be some the first Indigenous people to run a privately owned medical centre,” says Roberta.
Roberta also says it’s been great to be a part of the very first group of students to graduate from the enabling course, and they’re proud to ‘blaze the trail’ for other young Indigenous people who want to pursue a career in health.
“Being a part of the first cohort, you set the standards for all the rest and you put it out there that the course is for all Aboriginal people; to let them know that the opportunity is there and don’t be afraid to apply.”