Hi Beverly, nice to meet you. Can you tell us a little about your childhood growing up in Kenya?
I am the first of 2 girls and was born in Nairobi, the capital city, and was raised there up to the age of 18 years.
I remember my childhood fondly. We grew up on a flower farm just outside the city and our weekends were filled with bike races with our cousins, swimming and diving into the dam, and climbing — or mostly falling! — from the avocado or loquat trees. It was simple and filled with lots of laughter and family connections.
And how did your educational journey unfold?
My younger sister and I attended a Kenyan Catholic primary school until I turned 11 years old, when we transferred to the British system. At 18, I left home and attended university in England, where I pursued my undergraduate degree in anatomy and developmental biology and then my Master of Pharmacy. I returned home to Kenya shortly after registering and working as a pharmacist in England in 2010.
It was a big decision to leave Kenya and come to Queensland. Why did you take that journey?
It really comes down to pursuing better opportunities for myself and my daughter, and exploring the options available to me as a professional. It is said that the world is your oyster, and my parents always told us that education is your foot in the door — it is the key. So I guess I just wanted to put that to the test!
What led you to choose Australia and specifically Queensland? We aren’t as well-known as places like the USA or UK.
The weather and the work-life balance. I was born and raised in a country with a tropical climate and also lived in England for over 8 years. I would pick year-round sunshine any day …
Do you remember the day you landed in Australia? What was it like?
It was exciting and daunting and exhausting all at the same time. Exciting simply because there was the relief that the entire process of getting here had been successful. Daunting and perhaps overwhelming because of the endless possibilities that this new opportunity presented us.
How did you choose where to live? What’s the best thing about it?
I chose the Sunshine Coast initially due to its proximity to Brisbane and still being a regional area that my visa required. The best thing about it is that the beach is just a short drive from home. I also really enjoy the feeling of safety — and the light traffic!
You’re now working in a retail pharmacy. How did you go about finding a job once you arrived in Queensland?
I was very lucky in that I managed to secure a job within a month of arrival. I began the process before I left home, researching opportunities for work in my field and contacting these organisations and individuals directly.
What was it like the first day you walked into your new work?
It reminded me of the first day in school … You’re excited but also feeling a little lost and confused. There are new faces and names to remember, new systems and methods of operation to get used to, in addition to some new medications and pharmacy laws to follow.
How does your work here differ from your work as a pharmacist in Kenya?
Well, I worked in a large, primarily psychiatric government hospital in Nairobi. The most notable difference is the resources available — or, actually, the lack of resources in Kenya — for promoting healthy communities, and the difficulties local communities faced in accessing the services and medications they required.
Are there similarities as well?
Yes — the golden strand that links both working environments is maximising the resources one has, and doing the best you can to not only provide medication to the community but to empower and educate people to be responsible for their own health, and better understand the health issues facing them, or their loved ones.
Do you think you’ve faced particular migration challenges being a woman?
The biggest challenge has been being a solo parent and not having the family support system. But, at the same time, the biggest success has been how well we have settled in and feel at home here. Kuni especially is really thriving here. It really is a wonderful place for children.
Overall, do you think the move has been worth it?
It certainly has. I probably wouldn’t choose to re-live the entire experience, but we have become more resilient by facing the challenges we have encountered along the way. We have begun to find our place and voice in the community and we have grown. And, most importantly, we are happy.
What would you say to another professional woman who was considering migrating to Queensland?
I always say that, before starting the process, one must have decided that this is the path they wish to follow. There can be a lot of back and forth with documentation and potential professional exams and this can be discouraging along the way. My advice is not to give up. It is worth it in the end!
Beverly’s migration was supported by TIQ’s Business and Skilled Migration Queensland team.