Group photo of Ma & Morley 2020 scholars

2020 Ma & Morley scholars

“We appreciate yesterday, but we’re looking for a better tomorrow.”

- Jack Ma

Professor Alex ZelinksyIn common with all aspects of life, 2020 has been a year of adaptation for the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program. As we head to the end of 2020, we are focussing on building on this flexibility to take the program to even greater strengths next year – an approach to ‘build back better’ after the global pandemic.

This year has provided opportunities to pilot new approaches to achieving the program’s objectives, taking advantage of digital delivery and introducing new learning activities which add to the students’ experience.

This report showcases some of the activities of the program, alongside opinions from the scholars themselves about the impact of the program on their growth into leaders and agents of change. There are now 88 future leaders in the program. Each is following their own journey to their life goals, along the road signposted with the four core values of the program.

The University is grateful to be on this journey, travelling alongside our generous and wise partners. We would like to thank Mr & Mrs Ma and the Jack Ma Foundation for enabling this transformative program to be created. We are honoured to be working in partnership with Jason Pau, Beth Yu and the teams at Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba to help build a better world by supporting this remarkable group of people to join the next generation of globally aware and socially conscious Australian leaders.

We look forward to tomorrow and the change we will make together.

Professor Alex Zelinsky AO
Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Newcastle

Minerva Bailey - 2020 Ma & Morley scholar and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Chemical) student

"It’s so great to be in an interdisciplinary group of people, who have the same end goal and we want the same things for our world. I always feel this renewed sense of purpose after being involved in Ma & Morley events and talking together and I’m really grateful to be a part of this."

Minerva Bailey
2020 Ma & Morley scholar and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Chemical) student
Video: 2020 Ma & Morley Scholars

2020 scholarship in numbers

2020 Scholarship in numbers

Number of scholars in the program

Number of scholars in Ma Morley Program 2020

2018 and 2019 scholar demographics

Scholar demographics

Financial support

Financial support

Activities by date - stage 1

Stage 1 covers the first year of the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program when 30 new scholars join the program. The theme of the year is to connect and the scholars take part in activities to build connections between them and with the program values and the wider Ma & Morley family.

Core program activities

The University community welcomed the new cohort of scholars into the program, kicking off three intensive days of immersion in the program. A key highlight was the cultural sharing circle: the scholars’ first experience of the storytelling pedagogy of the program. Each is invited to bring an item of cultural significance and to share its story with the group, initiating deep connections between the scholars.

Before the welcome program, I was still almost in a state of shock about being awarded the Ma & Morley Scholarship. But already, I believe this is one of the best things I have ever been a part of. It has been amazing to meet some very unique yet likeminded people who have been brought together out of the passion they have for global change. It gives me goosebumps thinking about how awesome the group is. I really enjoyed all the activities, engaging with the program’s values and hearing from various alumni. I am so excited for what’s to come from this and to have 28 new friends!"

- 2020 Ma & Morley Scholar

Alex Foster using laptopThe planned Ma & Morley Scholarship Program China immersion for the 2020 scholars was postponed due to COVID-19. The University partnered with the Jack Ma Foundation to take a new approach to providing the eye-opening cultural experiences that echo Jack Ma’s life-changing initial trip to Australia. These were a real highlight for the scholars.

AliLive tour

In this live virtual mobility experience, the scholars toured the Alibaba headquarters and the latest technology being explored as they would have done in-person. They then debated and discussed the impact of these developments, such as self-serve supermarkets, with Jason Pau, Chief of Staff International, Jack Ma Foundation, along with discussing COVID-19’s global impacts and Jason shared some of his and Mr Ma’s advice and wisdom on making a difference in the world.

Yazmin Penn - 2020 Ma & Morley Scholar and Bachelor of Social Science / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student

"It lit this fire inside me to aspire for greatness."

Yazmin Penn
2020 Ma & Morley Scholar and Bachelor of Social Science / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student

Australia-Chinese Cultural exchange

The scholars connected with Jack Ma Scholars at Hangzhou Normal University, allowing students to gain cultural understanding through discussing student life in their respective cities with their Chinese peers.

I really enjoyed hearing the other students share their own customs and traditions. It made me understand both the similarities and differences between China and Australia's culture."

- 2020 Ma & Morley Scholar

Capstone experience

The scholars explored one of the program values in depth, connecting with existing programs and approaches as they would have in China. They explored the concept of decarbonising the region around Newcastle by gathering opinions from a range of stakeholders from organisations across Australia who joined for group discussion sessions. The two-day online program enabled the students to build their community leadership skills and form connections as they addressed challenging questions. The final presentation provided the scholars with additional life-ready skills by practising delivery of their ideas to a gathering of internal and external stakeholders including from the Jack Ma Foundation.

Kate Lloyd - 2020 Ma & Morley scholar and Bachelor of Communication / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student

I knew it was going to be amazing, but it’s just absolutely exceeded my expectations. I have learnt so much about leadership and the environment in general. I’m so glad to be a part of this Ma & Morley family.

Kate Lloyd
2020 Ma & Morley scholar and Bachelor of Communication / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student

It made me think more about the influence I have to lead the future and mobilise change in whatever area I pursue.”  2020 Ma & Morley Scholar

Being able to ask practical, pointed questions and have a back and forth discussion is really valuable.” 2020 Ma & Morley Scholar

It was lovely to have conversations with people doing really amazing things with incredible ideas to create a better world for all.”  2020 Ma & Morley Scholar

I have learnt a lot about different leadership styles and how to work as a team to create meaningful and impactful change.” 2020 Ma & Morley Scholar

The 2020 scholars gathered as a cohort to reflect on their growth during the year, and celebrate their progress and the opportunities they have been provided. Their stories and messages were shared with the rest of the Ma & Morley family, program stakeholders and the University community who work together to deliver the University's flagship scholarship program.

Video: When the scholars couldn’t travel to China, the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program brought China to them, including a virtual tour of the Alibaba campus in Hangzhou

Other enrichment program activities

The scholars met formally and informally throughout the year, supporting each other to stay positive, active and balanced during a year of significant upheaval and uncertainty. They received advice from University experts on managing stress, working online and making a difference in their Ma & Morley and broader community.

Bryson Douglas - 2020 Ma & Morley scholar and Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student

"I really value the group dynamic and the environment where speaking out and supporting each other is so encouraged."

Bryson Douglas
2020 Ma & Morley scholar and Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student

The scholars were also invited to take part in various activities and learning opportunities related to the values of the program, including joining Judy Morley at the Newcastle International Women’s Day Dinner.

Activities by date - stages 2 and 3

Stage 2 refers to the second year of the program when the focus of the program is to cultivate leadership skills and capabilities. In Stage 3, the third year of the program, scholars have the opportunity to create meaningful, impactful change. This year the scholar activities were mostly combined for the two stages, in order to make the most of opportunities available within the requirements of the pandemic.

Core program activities

A group of 5 Ma & Morley Scholars joined other students from the School of Environment and Life Sciences and the New Colombo Scholarship to participate in an eye opening experience in Samoa to learn about Samoan culture and traditional medicine.

A three-day experiential leadership intensive introduced the Stage Two scholars to Adaptive Leadership Theory. The course, delivered by Harvard-trained facilitators, included a study of facilitation and provided the scholars with an opportunity to develop their facilitation design and delivery skills as part of their leadership skills portfolio.

The Stage Two scholars began to work in pairs to design facilitated workshops, using the Adaptive Leadership framework. These were planned to be delivered in person but were adapted to become video stories or messages. In groups of four, Stage Two and Stage Three scholars were guided through the process by a professional digital storyteller, producing six videos, each designed to facilitate change: through inspiration, information or encouragement.

These videos are being shared widely with University and community groups by the program coordinators and the scholars

The self-led facilitation sessions were great. It was a great opportunity to stretch my boundaries.” 2019 Ma & Morley scholar

Project Management skills

The Stage Three scholars started the year with an intensive project management ‘bootcamp’ to reinforce their project management knowledge in advance of their 2020/2021 action projects.

Self-reflection and summative writing

The scholars continued the participatory reflective pedagogy of the program and took time to reflect on their personal growth and development along their leadership journey since they joined the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program. Under the guidance of a professional copywriter, the scholars practiced their summative writing skills, writing and peer-reviewing updated personal biographies.

The annual celebration of the scholars’ journeys was adapted for the current social context. The Stage Two and Stage Three scholars gathered to celebrate their achievements in the year, to reconnect in person and to reflect on the program and its role in their lives.

Scholar-created leadership development outputs

As part of their leadership and facilitation training, Stage 2 scholars produced videos about a subject they are passionate about, relating to the values of the program.

Other program activities

A number of scholars joined the Emerging Markets Initiative course at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, a great opportunity to learn with other students from across the globe and explore how we can support small initiatives make big impact.

Summative reflection

The scholars informed the triennial review of the program by providing qualitative and quantitative feedback on the program. They participated in a Most Significant Change-style workshop which uses participatory methodology to deliver a summative qualitative assessment of their growth within the program, and the program elements or other factors leading to that growth.

Peer-led program delivery

Scholars were able to hone their leadership and facilitation skills by delivering elements of the incoming scholars’ welcome and leadership workshops.

The scholars met formally and informally throughout the year for peer-led support and knowledge-sharing.

I was feeling a bit stressed before the session and honestly just seeing everyone's faces made me smile and lifted me so much." - Ma & Morley scholar

It is good to try and stay positive but there are plenty of challenges this year and it was good to have a space to talk about it. It can be hard to know how to have those conversations sometimes, but then talking about the things we can do about it framed it positively.” 2019 Ma & Morley Scholar

The scholars were also invited to take part in various activities and learning opportunities related to the values of the program, including joining the working group of the University’s Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan, assisting in delivery of professional facilitated workshops and representing the University to talk about the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program to potential applicants.

This year’s sessions have further provided me confidence in making change and using my individual passions to empower others."  2020 Ma & Morley Scholar

Leadership contributions

The Ma & Morley scholars earn their place in the program by demonstrating their commitment to the values of the program. They are dedicated to taking an active role in improving the world around them and consciously progressing their competency as global leaders. Here are just some of the outstanding actions and achievements of the Ma & Morley scholars outside of the program in 2020.

  • Tara Berthold was awarded a conservation internship with Arid Recovery and University of New South Wales
  • Brent Cassidy was awarded a Faculty commendation for academic achievement
  • Amy Foster provided a grocery delivery service for vulnerable neighbours during pandemic lock-down
  • Liam Johnson was invited to meet Federal Shadow Minister for Youth and the Federal Representative for Dobell to talk about mental health issues facing Australia's youth
  • Anna Popowicz has secured a role as a Research Assistant at the University of Newcastle
  • Jessica Philbrook has been elected as University of Newcastle Student Association Vice-President - Welfare and Wellbeing
  • Helena Qian received the University of Newcastle 2020 Student Employability Achievement Award and was awarded a Highly Commended Award for Global Citizen of the Year; was selected as a UNITE2030 Youth Delegate, moderating side events during the 75th United Nations General Assembly; represented the International Federation of Medical Students at the 73rd World Health Assembly; serves as the student representative on the University Council; and volunteers as a researcher with Westmead Women’s Institute for Research and Data Collection, investigating the impact of COVID-19 on fertility and maternal health outcomes and as an Australian Medical Students Global Health mentor, with the World Vision Advocacy Team, and as the Australian Ambassador for Youth Opportunities
  • Liam Scanlan was named in the Internet Retailing Top 50 People in E-commerce in Australia and Awarded Student Entrepreneur of the Year, University of Newcastle, for his surf wear brand that raises awareness of environmental conservation
  • Samuel Sebastian has been elected as Student Representative on the University’s Academic Senate
  • Michaela Skipp was awarded an internship with Climate Risk, developing climate models, and has been volunteering with the Newcastle branch of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition
  • Gabrielle Smart was commended for achieving four Higher Distinctions in one semester
  • Jasmine Stuart established the Newcastle branch of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition
  • Tara Tolhurst was appointed as an advisor on the Youth Advisory Panel for the Our World Our Say Report, Australia's largest youth climate report, focusing on amplifying the voices of young people on issues surrounding climate change and disaster risk and resilience for the public and our leaders
  • Joshua Walker has been volunteering at Walkabout Park Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Georgia Young was awarded a University Student Engagement award; established Passing Plants, a community initiative to cultivate connection to each other and the natural world; has been fundraising for mental health research support; gained employment as a Student Assistant including facilitating a leadership and entrepreneurship program with High Schools; and was selected to represent the University’s Open Foundation program in a meeting with the Australian Federal Leader of the Opposition.


  • Olivia Carroll was elected as a post-graduate Higher Degree Research representative on the University Faculty board and was the recipient of a Faculty Medal for academic excellence
  • Kishaya Delaney established the NSW Uluru Statement Youth Network; was Awarded CareerTrackers Intern of the Year 2019; has secured a role as Project Officer on the Towards Truth Project to enact Indigenous truth-telling processes under the Uluru Statement;  achieved a First Class Honours degree and her Honours thesis is to be published in the Adelaide Law Journal
  • Olivia Gallimore is working as a Senior Consultant with KPMG Australia
  • Jarrod Sansom was awarded an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship; was a Rhodes Scholarship and Fulbright Scholarship finalist; gained third place in the University of Newcastle Three Minute Thesis competition; has published articles in international journals and presented at International Conference on Communication and Media Studies; is employed as a Sessional Academic and Research Assistant at The University of Newcastle, a Community Liaison Officer at The Australian National University and an Electorate Officer at Parliament of NSW.
  • Danielle Simmonette is volunteering as a Board member of Hunter Homeless Connect; received a Faculty Medal for academic excellence and authors a monthly newsletter with a focus on mental health and wellbeing

Triennial Review

A major milestone for the program was achieved this year, with the completion of the first triennial review of the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program. Its role was to assess the design and delivery of the program against the original goals, objectives and purpose of the program set by the Jack Ma Foundation, the Morley Family and the University of Newcastle at its inception.

The report was overseen by an expert panel:

  • Sherrill Whittington (Dip Education 1970, B Arts 1969) – Chair –  an international consultant with experience working with the United Nations Development Program
  • Professor Darrell Evans, current professor and former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Newcastle
  • Nathan Towney, Pro Vice-Chancellor – Indigenous Strategy and Leadership at the University of Newcastle
  • Amy Tribe (GC Applied Management (Health) 2010), Head of Community at nib health funds and Executive Officer at nib foundation, a major philanthropic partner of the University

The Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education collaborated on the report, providing a qualitative analysis of scholar data. The University’s Strategy, Planning and Performance team provided quantitative analysis and led the administration of the review.

The panel interviewed a cross-section of Ma & Morley scholars and a number of key stakeholders of the program.

Learnings from 2020

2020 has been a year of adaptation, innovation and reassessment. The key learnings from the year that will be taken forward into improving the future of the program can be summarised under two areas:

Rhythm and pace - the disruption of 2020 demonstrated the value and importance of predictability, pace and recurrence within the overall Ma & Morley Program. Though innovation will always be sought, a strong degree of regularity and advance notice is beneficial to the scholars and the many staff and external organisations who support the delivery of the program. In 2021, the program will look to reintroduce regular activities to the calendar, such as the Indigenous immersion camp, and provide more advanced notice and detailed briefings of upcoming activities.

Benefits of digital formats - digital delivery brought benefits for the scholars and the program more broadly. In particular, it enabled engagement with expert stakeholders from across Australia in the delivery of the Stage 1 Capstone experience. Though there are clear benefits of face-to-face connection, digital delivery was more powerful than perhaps expected, as demonstrated by the scholars’ feedback from the AliLive tour. Digital experiences will continue to be explored and incorporated into the program to enable flexibility and breadth of experiences for scholars and also in order to develop the scholars’ digital literacy skills.

Promotion of the program

1M+ viewers reached through Ma & Morley content on social media
8,811 engagements across social media for Ma & Morley content
22,508 viewers reached through Ma & Morley email content
43,241 website views

2021 Plans

In 2021, almost 120 scholars will undertake a transformative experience across four stage of the program. Highlights from the 2021 timetable include: a digital China Immersion for stage 1; a leadership intensive for stage 2; a digital action for international cooperation project for stage 3; and the launch of the Ambassador and Mentoring program for stage 4.

2021 plans

2021 Calendar

Core activities

2021 calendar

Optional program activities

Optional program opportunities

Past reports

Jarrod Sansom - Ma & Morley Ambassador, Bachelor of Communication (Honours) 2020

“Any person who has the courage to admit humankind can do better should apply for the Ma and Morley Scholarship. Joining this program has been an incredibly meaningful experience. It has allowed me to take the next step in following my lifelong passion for helping those less fortunate. It has given me the confidence and wisdom to enact real change in my community and beyond. I have formed powerful connections around the world and important friendships here at home. I was once frustrated with the world. The Ma and Morley family turned my frustration into aspiration and determination.”

Jarrod Sansom
Ma & Morley Ambassador, Bachelor of Communication (Honours) 2020

Aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

3 - Good health and well-being4 - Quality education8 - Decent work and economic growth10 - Reduced inequalities16 - Peace, justice and strong instituions17 - Partnerships for the goals

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.