Mannix College’s 2018 annual Women in Leadership Lecture series heard from Dr. Sally Cockburn, better known as Dr. Feelgood, with her lecture ‘Navigating challenges in a professional career; how to be successful and also have a life.’
Alongside being Monash Alumni from the class of 1982 and an Adjunct Professor at Monash University, Dr Cockburn has had an extensive career with more than 20 years a media presenter on TV, radio and in print, as well as 30 years of clinical experience, using her career to empower those who ‘lack a voice’ and address sensitive issues that have previously been brushed aside.
The light humoured and conversational-approach to the speech left the audience in fits of laughter, but personal anecdotes about her career and personal endeavours advocated serious and on-trend issues, such as homelessness, mental health and the equality of care for all patients in the medical industry.
The lecture left two powerful messages with the students- use your education to better the lives of others, but to also put yourself first sometimes otherwise you cannot be of assistance to anyone.
“The reason I do radio is not because I want to be a celebrity, but I have a voice and I want to use it to improve people’s lives…anyone with a tertiary education needs to make sure they help those without a voice.”
She points out that many of the residents sitting in the Mannix dining hall aspire to better the world, with students studying courses ranging from medicine to education to music, but points out that whilst we cannot fix every point solo, ‘our way of [making an impact] is by changing an individual’.
The balance between work and leisure is a topic that resonates closely with Dr. Cockburn due to her recent flare up with her diabetes, which her neglected because she believed many of her viewers didn’t want to her listen to a ‘sick’ person.
In May of this year, Dr. Cockburn collapsed due to a life-threatening blood clot on her lungs- her beloved shitzu-cavalier, Molly, was the hero of the day, licking her face till she woke and prompting her to dial 000 for help.
‘I thought I was invincible…what they didn’t know was I was ignoring my diabetes, because I thought they’d think diabetes was weak,’ says Dr. Cockburn.
These two concepts emphasis that you must ‘put yourself at the top of the list’ and ‘look after yourself’ to be able to help others.
Concluding the evening with questions put to Dr. Cockburn from Mannix residents, she was asked how she believes we can create an inclusive culture in society and what barriers need to be triumphed- answering with ‘the best culture you want to change is the culture of stigma, and inclusiveness’.
She urges students to ‘celebrate diversity [and] celebrate challenges’ regardless of how small these obstacles may seem.
‘It’s a slow task…you don’t have to change your own opinions, you just need to have an open mind and understand other people may think differently,’ says Dr. Cockburn.
Words by Ava Kelly.