“My dream is to become a doctor. It has been, ever since I was a child. However, getting into nursing college was an opportunity and I am glad I chose nursing,” says Yolanda Som, Australia Awards PNG alumna.

Yolanda and more than 40 Papua New Guineans have been supported by Newcrest Mining Limited through the Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships to study nursing and midwifery since 2017. The partnership between Australia Awards PNG and Newcrest is contributing to improved health service delivery through the upskilling of health workers across PNG.

Yolanda, now 23 years old, says she has a long way to go and a lot of goals to complete, but one day she hopes to reach the top of her career ladder and become an expert in the medical area. She is proud of her diploma in nursing and describes it as “my greatest achievement.”

“I would like to thank the Australia Awards PNG for their great support that aided me in my three years of studies. I also thank my family for their support throughout my studies. Without them, I wouldn’t have come this far in achieving my qualification,” she says.

From a mixed parentage of Morobe and West Papua, Yolanda is the third born in a family of five siblings and the first one to make it to a tertiary institution.

Yolanda Som at ANGAU Hospital.

“My family was so proud of me when I first got accepted into a tertiary institution and is still proud of me, as they now have a nurse right at their doorstep.”

Yolanda graduated in 2020 and was part of the COVID-19 response team at ANGAU

Hospital, where she worked for almost a year, doing testing and vaccination. She faced the challenges of vaccine hesitancy and misconceptions just like other health workers while working on the COVID-19 response team.

She was then assigned to the Care Nursery, where she worked for three months monitoring and caring for newborns. “It was always fascinating to see the journey of a sick neonate or a low-weight baby getting better right under my nose until they are well and go back to their mothers,” she says.

“I’m very proud of how far I have come,’’ she added.

Yolanda attended three workshops hosted by Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association (PNGAAA). From these workshops she learned skills in clinical leadership, job application and interview skills, communications and presentation skills. She had the opportunity to present in one of these workshops on ‘what it is like to be a nurse’ in front of some teachers, midwives, colleagues, and facilitators.

Yolanda is currently pursuing opportunities to work in pediatrics.