Thea Pärnamäe Rural Pharmacy Bursary

Opening doors for rural women

Established to support female pharmacy students from rural and remote areas of Victoria and Australia, this bursary honours Swedish pharmacist Thea Pärnamäe, a great believer in the value of using education and pharmacy to improve lives.

The bursary pays $1200 for one year to a female undergraduate student from a rural or remote area.Picture of Thea Pärnamäe

Thea's niece, Dr Kersti Nogeste, has generously funded the bursary to honour her aunt's extraordinary life and their shared belief in the value of tertiary education and giving back to the community.

"Although Thea lived in Sweden, I shared a close bond with her and fondly remember her commitment to her profession," Dr Nogeste says. "Thea was keenly interested in the pursuit of education, since her own studies had been interrupted by World War II. Also, as she had grown up in a rural area during a tumultuous time, she experienced, first-hand, the particular difficulties that rural students face in furthering their education."

Dr Nogeste remembers receiving personally addressed mail from her aunt as a child, and the pair corresponded regularly over decades until weeks before her aunt's death in late 2010.

While not a pharmacy graduate, Dr Nogeste felt that a bursary to support female students from isolated areas was the best way to honour her aunt's life, values and influence on her.

"She taught me the value of generosity of spirit and the importance of keeping in touch," Dr Nogeste says.

Thea Pärnamäe was born in rural Estonia in January 1927 but fled to Sweden in 1944 as a World War II refugee with her parents and two sisters. After finishing secondary school, she worked for the Swedish post office before enrolling in the Farmaceutiska Institutet in Stockholm.

Dr Nogeste says her aunt chose a career in pharmacy because it promised to benefit her and society. A dedicated pharmacist, she saw her role as not only dispensing drugs but also ensuring the overall health and wellbeing of her clients.

How you can help

If you want to make a difference to a future student, please consider donating to an existing scholarship today. Or, to discuss setting up your own named scholarship, bursary or other award, please contact Harry Azidis, the Alumni Engagement Officer on Tel: +61 3 9903 9087, e-mail:

How to apply

Find out about eligibility and applying for the Thea Pärnamäe Rural Pharmacy Bursary.

Meet the 2017 bursary recipient

Bridget Kelly, Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) / Masters of Pharmacy

My family lives in Ballarat, when I decided to study in Melbourne one of my major concerns was that it would not be possible to commute every day with the intense timetable and study that pharmacy commands. With extended family support, I have been able to live in student accommodation in Melbourne for both my first year and continuing this year.

When I was 18 months old my parents made the discovery that I was anaphylactic to dairy and due to my life-threatening allergy, I have had to be extremely careful with food and its preparation. As a result of this living in a college style environment would have made it extremely hard to be assured of no potential contamination risks so I have been living in a small apartment on my own, which allows me prepare my food in a safe place.

Throughout my high school years, I knew that I wanted to be involved in the health industry, to be able to help people just like how so many teams of health professionals had helped and saved my life over the years. I always loved the maths and science subjects at school and for that reason all my VCE subjects were based around it. However, during Year 12 I was never 100% certain of what I wanted to do and I was deciding between a lot of university courses. Once I received my ATAR I again went around to all the universities and it was at this time that I was able to talk to people in the pharmacy course. It was during this discussion that I really discovered that I wanted to be involved in this profession, I was and still am amazed by a pharmacists depth of knowledge and it was at this information day that I realised that for me pharmacy ticked all the boxes.

The bursary will enable me to be involved in the Global Leadership and Advanced Research Program which is part of the Centre for Undergraduate Research Initiatives and Excellence (CURIE) program held at the Monash Clayton Campus. I am excited to have been nominated for this program which allows students to work with other disciplines on projects building capabilities and broadening perspectives which will be important working in the health system of the future.  This program is   during the holidays between the semesters and by having this bursary, I will be able to take the time from work to participate in this program and cover my rent.

Past recipients of the Thea Pärnamäe Rural Pharmacy Bursary
2016Kaitlyn Hastings
2015Georgina Pennefather
2014Kate Pilbeam
2013Anne Bradman
2011Melanie Welsh (nee Pentti)