‘Surprised, delighted and relieved’ – they’re the three words La Trobe Bendigo student Xiong Han Yong used to describe the moment he received a $75,000 scholarship to pursue his dream career in dentistry.
Han was the inaugural recipient in the PSA Insurance Scholarship Program in Dentistry for Rural Victoria, established to support talented students with the cost of their dental studies for up to five years.
For Han, the scholarship has provided the peace of mind he needed to continue studying.
‘Words cannot express how grateful I am to have obtained this scholarship,’ he says. ‘I was blinded by my passion for dentistry, and entered this course without thinking of the financial burden I would have caused my family. Had it not been for the scholarship, we would have really struggled financially.’
Han moved across the country from Western Australia to study at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus, and says the first year of his undergraduate degree was better than he could have imagined.
‘Dentistry has always been my dream,’ Han says. ‘To be able to make a difference to a person’s wellbeing for the better is of utmost importance to me.’
Han says he has a keen interest in serving rural and regional communities once he completes his course.
Sylvain Mani of the Victorian Medical Insurance Agency Limited (VMIAL), the company behind PSA Insurance, says the decision to fund the scholarship was inspired by the need to train more dentists for rural Victoria.
‘We have a particular interest in supporting medical and dental activities in rural areas, because there always seems to be a shortage of practitioners in those areas and a greater concentration in cities,’ Sylvain says.
‘We want our scholarships to provide a tangible and meaningful contribution towards the student’s study, and this particular scholarship was purpose built with La Trobe University so we could do that,’ he says.
For Han, the scholarship has fueled his future ambitions.
‘I would like to say a big thank you to the donors for granting me this scholarship. I probably would have never gotten this far had it not been for their kind generosity. I will certainly do my part in giving back to the community,’ he says.