The University of Newcastle, Australia

Engineering graduate secures John Monash scholarship

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

University of Newcastle (UON) engineering graduate, Catherine Richards, will continue her ambition of securing a sustainable future for the world after receiving a prestigious John Monash Scholarship valued at $200,000 to carry out postgraduate study at Cambridge University, UK.

Catherine Richards

The highly competitive John Monash Scholarships are awarded to only a handful of Australian graduates each year who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership potential and aspirations to make the world a better place.

Equipped with a passion for the environment from a young age, Catherine said the PhD scholarship will enable her to address some of the critical challenges the world faces regarding the sustainable management of energy, water and land resources.

“This is a life changing opportunity to study at one of the world’s best universities and address global issues in the resource sustainability space. Every country faces different challenges and this experience will enable me to step up as a leader to drive holistic and effective action on big issues such as climate change, renewable energy and food and water supplies,” she said.

At the young age of just 27, Catherine is no stranger to success. Juggling a demanding study load of a double degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering along with full time employment at Hunter Water, she still managed to graduate in 2013 with first-class honours and the rare accolade of two University medals.

“Growing up I had big dreams to have a beneficial impact on the world, and I wanted my career to be based around my passion for human wellbeing and the natural environment. I’ve made a lot of personal sacrifices to get to where I am, but it’s such an honour to have that hard work recognised and be regarded as a leader,” she said.

Catherine resigned from her role at ExxonMobil, the world’s largest energy resources company, to undertake a sabbatical before commencing her PhD in October 2017.

“I plan to travel across parts of Asia, Central and South America, Europe and Africa to broaden my global perspectives and develop a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by communities around the world regarding access to quality energy, water and land resources,” she explained.

The scholarships were established in 2004 in honour of General Sir John Monash for his military and civil leadership contributions to Australian life, and have since been awarded to just over 130 graduates across the country.

Catherine was one of 20 recipients awarded a scholarship this year and attended an award ceremony at the Sydney Opera House last night.

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