Community encouraged to create new opportunities for worthy students

Wednesday, 13 June 2018


The University of Newcastle is appealing to the community to help transform the lives of students who have exceptional talent, but through circumstances beyond their control, have had limited opportunities to excel and succeed.

Natasha and Brandan

Natasha, a survivor of family violence, is one of 154 students supported by the University of Newcastle donor community since 2011 through the Shaping Futures Scholarship Fund. The Fund offers students experiencing disadvantage $4000 to afford safe accommodation, transport, books and other necessities to continue their studies.

A childhood spent moving between homes and refuges to flee from domestic violence situations, Natasha attended more than 12 schools and consequently her education suffered.

“Some days, I wondered if I’d ever make it out of that life.  But as I grew older, I started picturing a different life for myself and my siblings,” Natasha said.

Having entered University through the Newstep program, Natasha was focused on becoming a criminal psychologist.

Now studying psychology at the University of Newcastle, working part-time and taking on a parental role to her younger brothers, Natasha said receiving one of the University’s Shaping Futures Scholarships last year helped her immensely.

“I was finding it hard to support myself and the scholarship helped me afford things such as food, books and a laptop. That’s why this scholarship was so important to me. It was encouraging that someone out there cared about my future - I’ve never had that kind of help before.”

Recent University of Newcastle biotechnology graduate, Brandan, also benefited from a scholarship to ease the burden of juggling full time study, part time work and caring for his father with a disability.

Brandan, who has overcome several of his own health issues, said when he received the scholarship he felt a wave of relief and gratitude but most of all he felt validated.

“Without the scholarship, I would have been completely ruined. It helped me buy essentials, like a bed and fridge.  But it also gave me reassurance that I was doing a good job and that I’d get through the hard times.

“Thank you for believing that everyone is important. I’m excited to start my research career and give back to the world,” Brandan said.

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said together with the generosity of the community the University could transform more students’ lives and help them bring new ideas and solutions to the world.

“I have seen many bright students like Brandan and Natasha who have a hunger and heart to make a difference. With help from the community we can continue to support these students with the education and opportunity that every young person should be granted.”

Professor McMillen said more than 400 students applied for Shaping Futures Scholarships this year, far beyond what the University could support without the help of the community.

The University of Newcastle promotes equity and diversity, educating almost one in four students who come from a low socio-economic background - well above the sector average.

“I encourage community members and local businesses to consider a tax-deductible donation before 30 June so that together we can provide more students with the powerful gift of education and new opportunities.”

For more information on how you can help shape a student’s future with a tax-deductible donation to the University’s Shaping Futures Scholarship Fund, go to http://www.newcastle.edu.au/shapingfutures