Springfield Central State High School Alumni
A Congolese refugee who spent his early years living in a war-torn country is living his dream of working in the health and nursing industry.
It’s a future Leon Mupapira had never thought of until he came to Australia.
The former Springfield State High School student, now aged 22, said he and his family fled their village after the Second Congo War.
At the age of four, Mr Mupapira was often forced to run and hide from rebels.
Having spent a lot of time travelling thousands of kilometres in search of a better home, Mr Mupapira’s family spent six years in a Malawian refugee camp, while they applied for refugee status and resettlement through the United Nations.
After heading to Australia in 2009, his family only knew the words “hello” and “goodbye”.
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Paramedicine at the University of Southern Queensland and Nursing at The University of Queensland, Mr Mupapira is currently practicing in a rural hospital in far north Queensland.
“My nursing role is generalist, working with paediatrics in emergency, aged care and in acute medical,” Mr Mupapira said.
“I have always wanted to work in the healthcare field and to help make a positive impact on people’s health and their care.
“I thought I wanted to be a paramedic but I realised nursing was a better fit for me.”
The first person in his family to go to university, he met his now wife Tessa at USQ and recently welcomed their first baby, Maya, in April.
Mr Mupapira completed most of his schooling in Australia, from Year 5 at Coopers Plains, and Year 7 at Springfield Central State School.
“My family moved to the greater Springfield area in 2011. I attended Springfield Central State School, and my Year 7 cohort was the first to graduate – there were 12 of us,” he said.
He said he considered his whole career a highlight to date and thanked his parents for giving him the opportunity to succeed.
“It’s a very rewarding field. Graduating as valedictorian and attending an international placement in India during my studies would be some of my highlights,” he said.
“I see my parents as inspiring and my role models, they have safeguarded me and my brothers from Africa to here and I hope to one day be a role model for my kids. “I also find inspiration in the struggles I have had to overcome to be where I am today. As well as my aspiration of helping those in need, it pushes me to achieve.”
Mr Mupapira recently returned to Greater Springfield for a visit and said he loved the continual development of the area.
“My wife and I particularly loved walking our dog in Robelle Domain parklands and running along the lakes in Springfield lakes, it’s quite scenic,” he said.
“My family, friends and I particularly enjoy using the vast sporting fields and amenities available. The proximity of education centres and shopping centres and transportation is also very convenient.”
Springfield Central State High School (science, maths, biology) teacher Blake O’Hanley said Leon was an exceptional student admired by both peers and staff.
“Leon would draw the attention of any group, large or small when talking about his life story and would inspire and motivate others including teachers by doing so,” Mr O’Hanley said.
“In my years of teaching I have never met a more humble yet determined individual.
“Leon is a perfect example of the term ‘Hard work earns success’.”