School of Psychology tutor and PhD candidate Alexandra Gibson traveled to the UK to research disparities of breast cancer treatment received by women from diverse backgrounds.

Her trip to the International Society for Critical Health Psychology was made possible by a donation from alumna Dr Belinda McKay, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities at Griffith University, who provided the funds to set up a bursary to assist UQ students from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning (LGBTIQ) community.

McKay, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1976 and a Graduate Diploma in Education in 1977, said the bursary was designed to help LGBTIQ students reach their potential.

“LGBTIQ students often experience rejection within their family or social context, and can struggle to reach their potential due to a lack of financial and emotional support."

“My donation was motivated by a desire to provide encouragement to these students, and I am delighted that this bursary will help Alexandra Gibson to travel to the UK to further her PhD research.”

Gibson left her homeland of South Africa due to the ongoing threat of physical and sexual violence experienced by the LGBTIQ community.

“I felt that being a woman and being in a same-sex relationship was really difficult in South Africa, especially facing the high levels of homophobia that continue to exist there, which led me to do my PhD in Australia,” she said.

“I felt that by studying at UQ, I could develop my career in women’s health and sexuality by working on a more international platform."

“This bursary gives me hope that opportunities for LGBTIQ people to participate and contribute to change within academia and society are well and truly on the horizon."

“I am truly grateful to Dr McKay for donating this money and to have this opportunity,” she said.

Gibson is a PhD candidate with the School of Psychology. Her study examines the way in which breast cancer is typically perceived within Western, English-speaking cultures, and how women with breast cancer are subsequently expected to experience their illness.