The 20-year-old from Mount Gambier always dreamed of attending university with aims to provide dental services to people in remote Australian communities and developing countries.
But on receiving her award, she reflected on the tragedy which initially put her dentistry dream on hold.
“I’ve wanted to study at the University of Adelaide since I was 15 years old,” she said.
“But it all seemed impossible when just over two years ago, my Dad took his life.”
The financial hardships of being a single-parent family in a rural area have further complicated Lucy, her two siblings and mother Lynette’s emotional rollercoaster.
With the family unable to finance Lucy moving to Adelaide to study – she began working as a dental assistant at a local clinic in Mount Gambier.
“Being in the clinic helped me a lot and made me feel really happy,” she said.
“I was overwhelmed by the support and kindness of my colleagues and decided I wanted to give back – I wanted to volunteer somewhere.”
It wasn’t long before Lucy relished an opportunity to travel with a dentist to Timor-Leste, to support local communities dealing with the lack of dental care available in the country.
“Timor-Leste has only 10 dentists for its population of more than one million,” Lucy said.
“The dentist I was working with mentored local operators as they treated patients to increase their confidence and skills – even little things such as giving toothbrushes to patients helped raise awareness around the importance of dental care.
Lynette said her daughter never gave up looking for any avenue to help her get into university – one of which was applying for the AnglicareSA 150 AS Scholarship.
“Lucy had to have two gap years working in the country because we just couldn’t fund her to come to Adelaide – it was heartbreaking because it’s all she wanted to do,” Lynette said.
“The scholarship eases the burden on her finding a job – she has enough to deal with mentally, as well as moving to a city away from her partner, family and friends.
AnglicareSA Patron and University of Adelaide Chancellor Kevin Scarce said it’s inspiring to think the scholarship has enabled Lucy to access the opportunities she deserves.
“Lucy’s an exceptional young woman and has displayed great determination to succeed,” he said.
“Dr Augustus Short had the vision that education was important and should not be defined by where you’re from or the amount of money you’ve got in your pocket.
Lucy said the AnglicareSA Scholarship has made a “huge emotional difference”, enabling her to prioritise her mental health and studies.
While only in her first year, she is excited to become qualified and bring her dental expertise to communities in need.
To financially support this scholarship please contact Yvonne Martin-Clark, University of Adelaide External Relations via [email protected] or 08 8313 6816.
If you’ve lost someone to suicide and are looking for support services please get in touch with the AnglicareSA Living Beyond Suicide team on 1300 761 193. For support regarding suicide prevention, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.