In this interview, Yaliilan yarns with Amy Pfitzner who is a tutor in the Aboriginal Tutorial Program provided by Wirringka Service.
Can you give me a little bit of a background on where you are from?
I was born and currently live here on Kaurna country. I once had a quick stint in Japan for an exchange program as a teenager which was a lot of fun! Otherwise, as a child, my family would often pack up the camper trailer and head up North (all the way up to Larrakia country) for months at a time.
I am of both Aboriginal (Kokatha) and European descent. Much of my photographic art considers identity and my continuing cultural journey.
Amy, you have graduated from UniSA, as a part of ‘The Deadly Alumni’, and now you are a deadly tutor. Can you tell me about the degree you studied at UniSA and why you chose that particular degree?
I chose to study a Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science (Medical Imaging) because it really combined a lot of areas I am passionate about including photography, art, science and helping others. It’s also incredibly rewarding as I get the opportunity to use advanced technology to image someone/their pathology and use that information to assist in their diagnosis and treatment.
Do you have other qualifications besides your Uni degree?
I actually have another degree – a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Photography). It’s something I did before my health degree and it not only helped shape me as a person but still informs my work as a Radiographer and Tutor now (especially in how I look at and approach challenges).
Did you access the ATP during your studies?
100% yes! It was the reason I could continue past the first semester. Medical Imaging is a degree heavy on physics from the get-go, and passing physics is needed in order to progress through the degree. During high school, I failed Math in year 10 (never picking it up again) and would constantly daydream in physics classes. I knew that I needed a lot of assistance, but I was determined to pass and ATP made that possible. Every week for 4 hours I would have a tutor help me with physics, and after an initial P1 in my first semester, I consistently got HDs over the next 1.5 years for physics.
What have you been doing since you graduated UniSA?
Enjoying work as a tutor and radiographer, continuing to connect with community in regard to improving medical services/care, and also picking up my art practise once more.
What has made you want to be a tutor with the ATP?
During my time at UniSA, I took on a strong role within the Wirringka Student Services Community and actively involved myself in volunteering opportunities and organisation of community events. During these opportunities I found myself acting as a leader to those around me, as I loved assisting others in being able to personally and professionally grow.
I also increasingly felt the inequitable burden of disease experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in addition to culturally unsafe and racist medical care (especially during placements). An increase in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce can combat this and I want to help make this a reality by helping students become the next group of Indigenous health professionals.
What do you hope to give back to your tutees?
Most of all I want to give them confidence in themselves and their abilities. Whatever they put their minds to – they can do!
What excites you about being a tutor?
So many things! My students will tell you that I can’t help but wear this stupidly cheesy grin when we practice for practical tests and they are nailing their answers; or when I have someone reach out to me for assistance, as it can take a lot of courage to ask for help. I love celebrating big to small successes, and being there when times get low.
What other work do you do?
I am also a radiographer at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, so I specialise in paediatric imaging. My patients vary from 400-gram premature babies to fully grown adults – it’s an incredibly varied and challenging role. I learn something new every single day.
If you could be anyone for a day; who would you choose to be and why?
Not one person in particular, but I am surrounded by so many strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women working as community leaders whose shoes I would love to be in for a day – to be able to learn and feel their strength.
What do you do in your spare time?
Art and photography – consuming, making and buying.
The Aboriginal Tutorial Program (ATP) offers Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students access to tutors in metropolitan and regional locations, free of cost. Tutors have skills and experience in a wide range of study areas and tuition covers all areas of study including academic writing, referencing skills, research skills, guidance on assignments and support to develop independent study skills. Tutors are available to help with study and workload demands and to provide support and encouragement to assist with succeeding at university. To register your interest for the Aboriginal Tutorial Program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact one of the Aboriginal Student (and Community) Engagement Officers.