Published on 30 October 2013
A 36-year-old Buderim mother diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was pregnant several years ago has started research at the University of the Sunshine Coast to turn her personal experience into professional practice.
USC Master of Science student Shannyn Meloncelli was a finalist in the University’s recent Three Minute Thesis competition, delivering an emotive presentation about the motivations and goals of her research.
Ms Meloncelli said her experience as a mother dealing with a debilitating but “invisible” illness while parenting two young daughters had prompted her to help other mothers with chronic health issues.
“When I was diagnosed I was shocked and dismayed to find so little research and available support in relation to rheumatoid arthritis or maternal chronic health issues in general,” she said.
“I hope to ensure mothers are better informed and have greater support when managing chronic health issues alongside parenting, so they not only survive but thrive.”
Ms Meloncelli is interviewing 20 mothers from across the nation about living with rheumatoid arthritis to gain their insights, before further analysis.
“My personal plan is to become involved in a public health capacity at the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital and also work in academia,” she said.
She has already graduated from USC with a Bachelor of Arts (Communication) and a Graduate Diploma in Education.
“I love USC. I’ve been here on and off since 2000 and I have made friends for life,” Ms Meloncelli said.
“It’s such an inspiring and creative learning space. Living on a disability support pension is not an easy life, especially when you are raising children. I have the most supportive supervisors in Dr Florin Oprescu and Professor Marion Gray.”
— Julie Schomberg