NATALIE Dowling dreams of returning to the country to give back to those who helped her.
And she is one step closer to doing that after receiving a $2500 Give Me Wings scholarship from the Rural Health Workforce Australia and the Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria.
Ms Dowling grew up on a cereal cropping property near Yarrawonga where she became aware of the issues people in rural areas faced when it came to their vision.
She is now at Deakin University studying a Bachelor of Vision Science.
“Optometry is very different in the country compared to the city,” she said.
“There is a larger scope of practical things to do because in the country it’s not just about testing eyes and telling people they need glasses.
“We look at eye diseases where elderly people have had dry eyes caused by the heat and dust in summer.”
She said they also dealt with farmers who presented with metal shards in their eyes.
Ms Dowling said the scholarship was an incentive to endure her studies so she could return to a rural area.
“Scholarships are important because they encourage students to keep studying,” she said.
“It’s easy to give up, especially if you’re from the country because you have to travel to go to uni.”
The scholarship will help Ms Dowling afford textbooks and other living expenses.