On Christmas Day when many Aussie will be tucking into seafood and pavlova, Yukiko Ezure will be celebrating in the traditional Japanese way – by eating KFC and a strawberry shortcake.
“I grew up in Japan and for us Christmas is celebrated as a time to spread happiness and give children presents – it’s traditionally not a religious holiday in our culture.
“I belong to a Japanese music circle and I play drums in a band that plays J-pop (Japanese pop music), so perhaps we’ll have a jam session to celebrate this Christmas,” she says.
A talented musician, Ms Ezure is currently undertaking her PhD in Methodological Epidemiology, while working as a casual lab research assistant at the UQ Centre for Clinical Research.
“My PhD project is about using modern epidemiological methods to estimate causality. Causality is important for improving clinical decision-making. I’m aiming to utilise causal inference to enhance the quality of future infectious disease research and clinical decision making,” she says.
When she’s not working on her PhD or in the lab, Ms Ezure can be found tutoring students in UQ’s School of Public Health and in the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance and Retention program, where she supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
“I studied my Master of Epidemiology at UQ, and throughout my studies I enjoyed facilitating active discussions, motivating other group members, and also learned how to explain complex ideas in a simplified manner.
“Based on my personal experiences, I also have a strong awareness of cross-cultural differences. I wanted to utilise these skills to help other students, so I became a tutor.
“I find tutoring very rewarding – I love working with students and hearing about their passion for their studies – but at the moment my most important priority is progressing my PhD,” she says.
So, just how did Ms Ezure go from working in medical administration in Japan to studying a PhD halfway across the world in Brisbane?
“After my divorce, I immigrated to Australia with my two small children. I like to find a chance to change in any difficult situation, and I decided to take a risk and pursue something I’m passionate about – a career in health.
“I guess you could say I listened to my heart and chose to dance to the beat of my own drum,” she laughs.
Such a positive outlook on life has served Ms Ezure well and she agrees that she’s drawn on her resilience and positivity to get her through what has been a difficult year for many.
“I have a low threshold in feeling joy – there really is just so much to be happy and thankful for.
“When you’re feeling stuck, you just need to look for an opportunity for change and see where it takes you,” she says.
“For example, this year, because of lockdown I couldn’t attend music jam sessions. So we created a remote session platform and collaborated with music jam group members. This platform allowed us to connect with members who went back to Japan, and together we have great fun!”
Sometimes it really is the smallest things that make the biggest difference.