Meet the Valedictorian: Q&A with Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) Graduate Priscilla Daniells

Priscilla Daniells
Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) Valedictorian

What inspired you to study Pharmacy at UQ?

It was a combination of things! My first ‘lightbulb moment’ was when I was studying Nursing and Midwifery at UQ and I was on a placement shift at the RBWH when I spotted a beautiful lady in a nice dress, kitten heels and wearing jewellery. Call me shallow but these are all things I couldn’t wear to work as a future nurse or midwife. I noticed she was wearing a pharmacy lanyard and I asked her about her role. Her job was very interesting on the post-natal ward, where she had to find literature which supports the use of medicines in lactation when guidelines don’t exist. I didn’t know Pharmacists could work in hospitals or that their knowledge was so intricate! Naturally, I switched to pharmacy.

What has been your most memorable moment at UQ?

My final placement block in Western Australia was dreamy! There were many unforgettable moments and people. My favourite part was the two weeks I did with WA Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA) in a therapeutic community farm (residential rehabilitation service). I learned more than I could have dreamed of and built beautiful connections with the residents. I feel like this enhances my practise in a way no amount of study can do. I also scored an excellent quiche recipe from a resident here! Of course, placement in WA came with many weekend adventures to Kalbarri National Park, Shark Bay and the beautiful beaches of the Midwest region.

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

I believe that if you get the basics right, all else will come together. I prioritise sleep, movement and nutrition every day. It is an art to be in-touch with what your mind and body needs, so I ensure I sleep adequately, do some movement every day (walkies, yoga, pilates, running, hike etc.) and eat my 2 and 5 serves of fruit and vegetables. I also ensure I get my recommended daily intake of sweet treats (recommended by me, a professional). In Pharmacy, we are lucky that work is basically study if our job is pharmacy-based, so working is easy! Balancing study was a bit trickier since pharmacy is extremely content-heavy but I was very strict with myself to stay on top of content, to start assignments early and work consistently. A little bit of consistent work adds up to a lot in the long run! This worked best for me since I am completely incapable of cramming since I need a full night’s rest to function.

What drove you to become such a high achiever?

It comes down to my zest for life! It’s a total accident, I just really love learning! Growing up, if my Dad was watching TV (which is seldom given he is a farmer!), it was either the news, Landline or a documentary. From this, I developed a taste for learning and a huge repertoire of excellent trivia knowledge. I love to challenge myself and regularly ask myself what I would regret not doing in this life – then I go and do it!

Would you like to share any major obstacles or hardships you have overcome throughout your studies?

I have grown so much with the obstacles I have faced. Moving out of home, from a farm to the big smoke took me two years to acclimatise! I cried a lot in the first few months of moving to Brisbane. I had neighbours close by for the first time, I had to travel to be somewhere truly quiet, and I couldn’t understand why people didn’t smile back at me or want to talk to me on the bus. On top of that, I have survived a medium distance relationship with my now-fiancé who was studying in Sydney! Being the medical one in the family, I also felt responsibility for my dad who has been unwell for quite some time amongst other family commitments. This year was the hardest year of my life for personal reasons to the point where each day was a triage of competing priorities. Each week would pass, and I would think, “wow, that was the hardest week of my life,” only to be superseded by another. In semester 2 of this year, I was worried I wouldn’t complete my assessments in time since I was often missing classes, but I am grateful to UQ for their Student Access Plans which gave me so much peace and flexibility to complete my studies. My wonderful student advisor asked me if I wanted extensions, extra exam time or breaks in exams. I answered, “all of the above!” I am thrilled to be graduating as planned!


What are you most passionate about?

Connection with people - above all else! Coming from a small town and a big family, I love friendships. I love to care for others, I love knowing about their lives, their gardens, their plans for dinner that night. Tell me everything! Share your recipes with me! That very much translates to caring for the health of others including their medicines and lifestyles. It is a beautiful thing to connect with people and be trusted to give meaningful advice.

What do you believe it takes to become valedictorian?

Valedictorian sounds like an ideal, almost like Barbie! To me, the person is a well-rounded student: strong GPA, contributes to university matters who is kind and respectful to others. I have no idea what else they look for, but I believe it to be an impressive person!

What does being awarded Valedictorian mean to you?

I am totally gobsmacked to represent my extraordinary peers in the UQ School of Pharmacy. Being Valedictorian was not on my radar at all, let alone something I believed I could possibly be nominated for. I was not primed to be tertiary educated. My household disparaged university study. My Dad is a carpenter and farmer who spells phonetically, and my Mum’s third language is English. When I lived at home, I had to be in bed with the light off by 9PM every night. I still managed an excellent OP. Being Valedictorian is a symbol of consistently pushing for more. Despite my imposter syndrome, I am so proud of my tenacious attitude because everything that I am now is something I have built from the ground up, and a reminder that I can achieve anything.

What advice would you give future UQ students?

Look after yourself. There is more to life than study 24/7. No one will remember your GPA but they will remember how you treated them. Find your balance and what works for you, it will be different for everyone! Be intuitive and take breaks when you need them. Say no when you need to – I could do a TED talk on this! Get involved in things you’re interested in, UQ is a mecca of talented people – now is the time to build connections! Ask people you admire for a coffee date. Don’t forget to drink water and don’t forget to call your parents!

What’s next for you after graduation?

First, a break! I’m embarking on a six-week sabbatical filled with adventures and family time. In January, I will begin an amazing job as an Intern Pharmacist at one of Australia’s greatest community pharmacies, Terry White Chemmart Arana Hills. The Pharmacists I will work with are phenomenal and extremely talented. I can’t wait to be trained under their expertise and pioneering spirit in the pharmacy landscape.

Learn more about UQ's Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours).
Last updated:
12 December 2023