12 May 2022

Emily McDonald’s journey to becoming an intern at NHMRC has not been exactly straightforward.

She had a lengthy career in the fashion industry.  When her eldest child, Max (now five years old), was just two, she took a leap of faith and enrolled in a Bachelor of Nutrition Science at Deakin University. Now with the addition of daughter Indy to the family, and a transfer to the University of Canberra, Emily is in her final year of university and considering a whole new range of options going forward. She applied for the NHMRC internship as a way to gain public service experience.

Emily was thrilled to hear of her acceptance into the intern program.

“I called my husband right away - it was great to be able to share such good news, especially after a challenging few months of COVID-19, home-schooling and caring for children while studying fulltime.”  

Emily was also quick to share the good news with her mother – family has been so important to Emily on her educational and health service journey. 

Emily explains, “My late grandfather, Kija man Ernie Bridge, was the first Aboriginal member of Parliament in Western Australia. Once he retired from politics, he started his own foundation with the aim of improving health in Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. His work has always had a significant influence on me, and I am extremely grateful for the strong family role models that I have had.” 

During her internship Emily worked in the public health team on a stakeholder engagement project with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people looking at the uptake of the Recreational Water Quality guidelines. 

She shares, “I learnt so much and it also highlighted to me that I have interests in other areas of the public health space outside of nutrition. I have loved learning about water and how it affects people in ways that I have never previously considered.” 

Next steps for Emily include finishing her degree and graduating, continuing to work part time in the public health area and trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance with her young family. 

“My favourite part of the internship has definitely been the connections I have made, the lessons I have learnt and working through the different challenges of the project. I leave not only a more confident worker but also a more confident person,” she says.