Meet the Valedictorian: Q&A with Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) Graduate Eliza Watson

Eliza Watson
Eliza Watson
Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) Graduate and Valedictorian

What inspired you to study physiotherapy at UQ?

My mum is a physiotherapist so initially I was stubborn and convinced I was going to do something different, but my drive to promote people’s independence definitely made physio the right choice for me.

I was really drawn to the way we can empower people with strategies to achieve important goals in such a wide variety of settings including helping someone walk after surgery, return to sport, or in the recovery of a brain injury.

UQ specifically appealed to me for the opportunity to not only gain clinical skills, but research-based experience as well. I knew it would provide me with a strong foundation to continue to learn and develop as a physiotherapist in the future.

What has been your most memorable moment at UQ?

My final year has been the most memorable. I loved watching the skills I learned translate into being able to help people improve their function, especially on my neurological and orthopaedic placements.

I was also lucky to work on a research project over the year and had the chance to present my findings to leading physiotherapists which was a daunting but fantastic opportunity.

How did you manage to balance your study, work and other extracurricular activities?

It was certainly a challenge and I’m a big fan of a weekly planner, but I think the biggest factor that helped me was that I had a great group of friends around me. The thing I loved most about studying physio was that my peers became good friends, sporting teammates and study companions. What helped me balance out the stress of exam preparation was playing in the physio touch football team and practicing physio skills with friends to make it more enjoyable.

What drove you to become such a high achiever?

To be honest, my drive wasn’t necessarily to achieve highly but to gain as many skills as I could to hopefully become a great physio. I had a real genuine interest in what I was learning, so studying didn’t (always) feel like a chore.

Throughout the whole degree, I really looked forward to my final placement year and getting to put my knowledge into practice. I think this helped me stay motivated knowing that I’d get to use everything I was learning to help people work towards their goals.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m really passionate about working with people to improve their independence. With an ageing population, I think this has become more important than ever.

Across my placements, it was highly rewarding helping people become independent with walking and daily tasks following surgery, neurological or chronic health conditions. I’m really excited to enter the profession to continue to do this in the future.

What do you believe it takes to become valedictorian?

I think more than anything it’s about making the most of the time, opportunities and experiences that university offers. Being passionate about your field of study makes the academic side of university more enjoyable. However, I think it’s also highly valuable to explore chances to meet new people and gain new skills through social and extra-curricular activities.

What does being awarded valedictorian mean to you?

To me, being valedictorian is a huge honour and I am very aware it’s not just a reflection of my own time at university, but the support I received from my peers, family and educators along the way. I felt incredibly grateful to be recognised for my involvement with various student leadership initiatives and academic performance and feel very lucky to have done this with incredible people by my side.

What advice would you give to current and future UQ students?

Get involved and get to know the people studying alongside you! I found by participating in extra-curricular activities and leadership groups, I not only strengthened my communication and confidence working in teams, but gained lifelong friends and a real passion for the profession and community I will work in.

What’s next for you?

Next year I’m really excited to join the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital physiotherapy team in a rotational new graduate position. I’m looking forward to using the skills I’ve learnt and continuing to develop across a wide range of clinical areas.


Learn more about UQ's Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours).
Last updated:
27 January 2023