Only five weeks into a six-year journey studying medicine, Sanjna Kumar and Madhulikaa Sarjapuram had to leave the University of NSW in Sydney and return home to Albury-Wodonga.
All their learning was moved online due to COVID-19.
But the disruption has been made easier for the first-year UNSW students, knowing they have financial support when it's time to return to campus.
Albury Council has allocated $3500 medical scholarships to the young women and fellow Albury student Joseph Burton.
They are among a cohort of nearly 300, who Ms Kumar is now getting to know virtually.
"It's been OK studying online - not too stressful," she said.
"We've had our first set of exams online.
"With lectures it's good, because you can pause and take notes, but with practicals, I miss doing those in person and socialising.
"But we'll be going back soon."
Ms Kumar has always aspired to a medical career.
"I was born in Pakistan and moved to Wodonga when I was eight with my family," she said.
"I realised I wanted to do medicine in childhood.
"I always pretended to be a doctor, read books related to them and watched TV shows, and science was something I really loved."
Ms Sarjapuram has been lucky to get insight into the job, undertaking work experience in Melbourne and at the Holmesglen Private Hospital in Alice Springs as a year 11 student.
"Initially I was scared to do it, but as I did my work experience, I really fell in love with medicine," she said.
"Previously I'd shadowed a doctor in Melbourne, so I got to witness the disparities ... between non-indigenous and indigenous populations.
"That lit a spark in me to pursue medicine.
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"I have a couple of doctors in my family - medicine is a long and tough journey, so it's good to have that mentorship."
The long-standing council scholarships are intended to bring back UNSW students after their degree, which involves opportunities to study rurally in final years - as deputy mayor Amanda Cohn experienced.
"These guys are studying in Sydney for now, but I know my own experience studying here was so fantastic I plan to spend the rest of my career in this region," she said.
"I think medical school is a really stressful time normally, so I take my hat off to students who are having their study disrupted.
"I think more than ever, it's [COVID-19] shown our community how much we appreciate having good-quality health services in our region."