You may be familiar with the face of UQ’s Create Change advertising campaign – the smiling, khaki-clad student that graced television screens and billboards across Brisbane in 2015. But few may know her story or appreciate how she’s used her position to help others.
With a PhD, a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) win, and now a career in science, UQ researcher Dr Louisa Parkinson has accomplished a lot since she began her studies in biotechnology at UQ in 2010.
Completing a PhD in 2017, Dr Parkinson is now working as a Project Research Officer for the avocado industry at UQ’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI).
Having experienced student life only recently, Dr Parkinson clearly remembers what it’s like to feel the need for financial assistance.
“I know what it’s like to be a student, and I understand the struggle,” Dr Parkinson said.
During her time at UQ, she received a summer research scholarship and an Australian Postgraduate Award, which enabled her to complete her PhD studies at UQ.
As an advocate for giving back, Dr Parkinson donated to UQ’s Future Scientist Scholarship when she received a phone call from the UQ Calling Crew, UQ's student led telephone engagement campaign, in late 2017.
“I talked to that student for half an hour, and told them what I was passionate about.
“When she mentioned scholarships, that’s what triggered me to donate.”
In 2011 Dr Parkinson’s Filipino heritage led her to enter the Binibining Pilipinas-Australia (Miss Philippines-Australia) pageant to raise money for student scholarships at universities in the Philippines.
“My mum and I raised $10,000 for university scholarships and I was lucky enough to win the pageant,” Dr Parkinson said.
“I actually went over to the Philippines and donated the money in person, it was really fulfilling.”
“My mum is Filipino and when I was growing up my family and I would always visit her home town and we saw what life was like over there and that many of the students need support.”
Dr Parkinson says that throughout her studies, UQ staff members encouraged her to apply for scholarships and other opportunities available at UQ.
Now, Dr Parkinson feels that her philanthropic endeavours and her research at UQ go hand-in-hand.
“I feel very lucky and privileged to be a staff member which is one of the reasons why I was really happy to give back.
“I find that my research is also connected to my community work because my goal is to help people.
“My research has helped the avocado industry, helped the world though food security, and helped my local community.
“I love interacting with growers, researchers and others involved in the industry - I feel really connected to them and I want to keep contributing.”
Dr Parkinson’s advice for those who want to make an impact on the community?
“If you see something happening that you’re keen about or interested in, don’t be afraid to step up and try it, because you can make lots of friends, learn something new and make a contribution to your community.
“Essentially get up and give it a go, that’s my advice.
“When you have an interest, don’t be afraid just do it.”
The UQ staff giving program offers UQ staff the opportunity to make a difference to support an area of their choice within the University. By choosing to donate, you can empower and support students to reach their potential or help progress groundbreaking research and discovery. Every donation – no matter how big or small – makes a difference.
For more information contact Margaret Hammer on 07 3346 3900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.