With the support of VU’s dedicated staff, Rhian Stavely rose from disappointing VCE results to become a researcher in biomedical science at an Ivy League university.
"I grew up in Westmeadows with my hard-working mother and three siblings who all encouraged my curiosity and desire for education. My Year 12 results were meagre, but VU offered me a chance to succeed. I’m testament to VU’s philosophy that Year 12 scores do not define your talent – when a student finds their niche and interest they can excel.
After completing my bachelor degree and honours in biomedical science, I received an Australian Postgraduate Award to begin PhD research on stem cell therapies for inflammatory bowel disease. The award gave me the choice to attend any university in Melbourne, but I chose to stay at VU. I knew I had my best chance to succeed due to the dedication and expertise of the teaching staff. They are highly regarded academics with an international reputation whose passion is contagious. VU facilities are also state-of-the-art on a global scale. The Western Centre for Health Research and Education has enabled me to conduct competitive research at the top of my field.
Recently, I accepted an offer to join Harvard University (USA) to continue my research career at Massachusetts General Hospital under renowned Professor Allan M. Goldstein, chief paediatric surgeon. I’ll be contributing to cutting-edge research on stem cell therapies for Hirschsprung's disease.
During my time at VU I attended a speech by Julia Gillard. In this speech she stated that education is the most empowering tool we can wield. Inspired by this, I was driven to lead by example. My three daughters were born during my studies and I wanted to become as educated as possible to show them and others that they can live their dreams as I am now."