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Sam swaps Bond’s sandstone arches for the Emerald Isle

In 2017, Bond Exercise and Sports Science student Samantha Fien will be swapping the Gold Coast’s golden beaches for the rolling green hills of Ireland as part of an international research scholarship.

Sam was recently awarded an Emerging Researcher in Ageing (ERA) international scholarship for 2017.  Funded by the ERA Steering Committee, and with the support of the Ageing Research Centre’s Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research, the scholarship offers students opportunities to grow and develop as researchers, as well as create connections with their peers, senior academics and policy makers within Australian and internationally.

Sam has held Bond University close to her heart ever since she completed a university subject while still in high school, as part of Bond’s ‘Student for a Semester’ program. 

“I fell in love with Bond from the start. I loved what I learned in the classes, the atmosphere and the beautiful campus,” Sam said. 

“Everyone was really friendly and I didn’t have to wear my school uniform so no one knew I was in high school and I was treated like all the other university students.  It was an amazing experience, I only wish I did more subjects!”

Upon graduating from St Joseph’s College at Banora Point, Sam was awarded a Collegiate Excellence Scholarship to study a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science at Bond University. 

Her passion for health and helping others influenced her decision and she knew the field would provide many interests and challenges.

Upon completion of her Bachelor’s degree she progressed to a Master of Science by Research (Health Sciences) and is now a PhD student at Bond under supervisor Associate Professor Justin Keogh, with a research focus on gait performance in residential aged adults and the benefits of exercise.

Since completing a placement at the Cardiac Centre on the Gold Coast as part of her Bachelor’s degree, Sam now works at the Centre part-time. On weekends she teaches exercise at an aged care facility and is also an active surf lifesaver.

Sam said she has thoroughly enjoyed her time at Bond to date, especially being able to call on lecturers for assistance and advice throughout her journey.

“The contacts I have made here have been invaluable.  I have had such a personal experience at Bond and have never felt like ‘just a number’,” she said.

“My confidence has grown since being here too, which really helped me to get this scholarship in Dublin.  I definitely wouldn’t have the opportunities, or be who I am now, if it wasn’t for Bond.

Sam said she was very excited about her trip to University College in Dublin, which is a top ranking research-intensive university.

“To work under the supervision of internationally-renowned researcher Dr Catherine Blake is an amazing opportunity for me,” she said.  

“I also look forward to the opportunity to foster international collaborations between Bond and University College.

“Hopefully sharing research outcomes and experiences will assist my Australian colleagues in conducting research that influences policies and practices for the Australian residential aged care sector.”

Sam is committed to becoming a leader in the field of aged care research.

“My goal is to become recognised as a leading translational researcher, who influences residential aged care policy for the benefit of both residents and staff.

“I anticipate this exchange will have a very positive and life-long impact on me, by accelerating my research productivity and personal development.

“I am so thankful for the opportunities, skills, knowledge and experience that I have already gained from Bond University and I’m incredibly excited for the next adventure. It is truly amazing where research can take you!”

Sam will leave for Dublin in April 2017, but not before stopping off in Barcelona to attend the International Conference on Frailty and Sarcopenia Research where she will present her research on sarcopenia status in residential aged care adults.

We wish Sam all the best on her exciting journey!

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