Jessika's journey from Maccas to clinical trials

Published 5:00pm 11 April 2024

Jessika's journey from Maccas to clinical trials
Words by Nick Crockford

More than 300 students graduated from UniSC’s Moreton Bay and Caboolture campuses this month – including a former McDonald’s manager.

Jessika Acutt received a Biomedical Science degree, University Medal for a grade point average of 7 out of 7 and leadership award at the Petrie ceremony.

The 27-year-old, who went to Hervey Bay State High School, is now working as an associate with the Morayfield UniSC Clinical Trials Centre.

“I’m essentially a trainee clinical trials coordinator, learning how to run trials from start up to close out,” Jessika said.

Jessika's journey from Maccas to clinical trials
Jessika Acutt at the UniSC Moreton Bay graduation ceremony in Petrie

“The centre specialises in first-in-human or phase one trials, and the work we do supports the advancement of pharmaceuticals and devices globally.”

Jessika, who worked at McDonald’s from the age of 15, got her new job after a student placement with UniSC Clinical trials during her three-year degree.

“I’d completed two years of a nursing degree with another university before deciding it wasn’t the path for me, but I really liked the science aspect,” she said.

“I knew I wanted to study courses such as anatomy, genetics, pharmacology and molecular biology, so biomedical science was a natural choice.”

Picture gallery - click through

Jessika presented a graduate address at the 4pm ceremony on the day the Moreton Bay campus officially opened three new buildings.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Helen Bartlett said the new buildings added 12,500sqm to the existing 16,000sqm of floor space.

They have teaching and learning spaces, research labs, an industry hub, student gym and sports hall, sports science facility, social spaces, an Indigenous engagement space, outdoor areas and multi-level parking.

The $100 million project was stage two of the University of the Sunshine Coast campus construction, which has totalled $240 million so far.

“I liked that they opened empty classrooms to study in if required,” Jessika said.

“My classmates and I would often use the big screens when reviewing posters and sometimes even the auditorium to stream lecture content!”

Graduates who studied at UniSC Moreton Bay and Caboolture campuses attended two ceremonies on campus at Petrie.

About 2000 UniSC graduates overall celebrated in nine ceremonies at Fraser Coast, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay this month.

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