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Samantha shines for Coffs Harbour graduation


10 April 2014
Experiences with mental illness in some family and friends sparked an interest in psychology that has culminated in Samantha Joplin receiving the University Medal at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour graduation ceremony this Saturday, April 12.

Ms Joplin, who grew up on a farm near Wauchope and the first in her family to attend university, will graduate with a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours awarded with First Class Honours. She is one of 183 graduands who will attend two ceremonies on Saturday.

“It was very surprising for me to receive the University Medal but to be honest I worked very hard to get it,” Ms Joplin said.

“I guess the experiences from my family (with mental illnesses) sparked the curiosity in me. I have seen the pain that mental illness can cause family, particularly in rural areas where support services are basically non-existent.”

The 23-year-old’s honours research was a pilot study aiming to increase medication adherence in populations with rheumatoid arthritis using musculoskeletal ultrasound. It was hoped that through demonstrating diseased joints to sufferers, they would be more inclined to adhere to their prescribed medications. The pilot study took place at a community based arthritis clinic (the Mid North Coast Arthritis Clinic) located in Coffs Harbour. She will present her findings at the Australian Rheumatology Association (ARA) Conference in Hobart next month.

Ms Joplin, who will marry her childhood sweetheart later this year, wants to become a neuro-psychologist and will continue her studies at Sydney University where she is undertaking a Doctor of Clinical Psychology combined with a Masters in Science (double degree), and potentially a PhD.

The former Wauchope High School student has been awarded a $30,000 grant through the Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship and Support Scheme (NAHSSS) and an Allied Health Clinical Psychology Scholarship.

“The grant is given to those from a rural background to encourage them to return to rural areas to practice. Long-term I would love to return to the country, where there is a dire need for psychological services,” Ms Joplin said.

There will be two graduation ceremonies on Saturday, at 9.30am and at 12.30pm, at the Coffs Harbour campus student sport centre. The Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP, assistant Minister for Employment and federal Member for Cowper, will deliver the occasional address at the 9.30am ceremony. Mrs Elizabeth Ruthnam, chief executive officer of Baringa Private Hospital, will deliver the occasional address at the 12.30pm ceremony.

One PhD will be presented to Raina Mason for her thesis on ‘Designing Introductory Programming Courses – The Role of Cognitive Load’. Raina is a lecturer in the Southern Cross Business School.

Graduates will receive their awards from the University’s Chancellor The Hon John Dowd AO QC who will be participating in his final Coffs Harbour graduation before concluding his 12-year term as Chancellor in September.

Photo: Samantha Joplin.

Media contacts: Brigid Veale, head of Communications and Publications Southern Cross University, 02 6659 3006 or 0439 680 748.

Steve Spinks, media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, 07 5589 3024 or 0417 288 794.