Bendigo student Olivia Feeny receives Carlton Football Club Blue Skies Scholarship

Bendigo Campus student Olivia Feeny has credited the support of the Carlton Football Club Blue Skies Scholarship for helping her prosper in her first year of study despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Olivia, who is now in the second year of her Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) degree at La Trobe University’s Bendigo Campus, was awarded the Carlton Football Blue Skies Scholarship in 2020 for her community participation and a genuine interest in societal issues relating to gender equality, diversity and inclusion.

Carlton Football Club have established this scholarship to support a student from a diverse background who is completing an undergraduate degree. The purpose of this scholarship is to provide an opportunity to a student who, as a result of personal circumstances and educational disadvantage, may require financial support to assist with completion of their studies.

Olivia said it was a massive relief when she received the news that she would be a recipient of the Carlton Football Blue Skies Scholarship in 2020.

"I was extremely happy and excited when I received the email about my scholarship," Olivia recalled.

"I worked very hard on writing the application in the previous year. The application process gave me the opportunity to highlight my interest in societal issues, such as gender equality, diversity and inclusion. It was definitely a key part of my application, that and my background.”

The financial assistance provided by the scholarship has allowed students like Olivia to undertake opportunities they might not have been able to, such as giving students the ability to move to and live on campus and to pay for academic expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Olivia's case, the financial assistance proved to be extremely important in being able to sustain her study commitments during COVID-19. Shortly after moving onto the student accommodation at La Trobe University’s Bendigo Campus, the full toll of the pandemic started to take hold and she soon found herself moving back to her home town of St. Arnaud on her family's farm.

"The pandemic has affected my year, as I planned to get a part-time job for a couple of days a week in Bendigo whilst I was living on student residence," Olivia said.

"However, because I had to move back home to St Arnaud, I was not able to get a part-time job as planned in Semester 1. St Arnaud is a very small town with a population of only 2000 people, and there are limited jobs available throughout the year.

“I got a job last year but I only work one day a week. My mum still is working part time as a CRT teacher and my father is still farming, so it’s a bit hard with our income coming from a farming background – we’re always relying on the rain to get us money.

"The (Carlton Football Club Blue Skies) Scholarship supported my academic expenses during the year."

With her plans of an exciting new life at university in Bendigo on hold, Olivia was forced to confront the situation experienced by many students in 2020 -  studying from home.

"My study schedule didn't change dramatically in relation to the times of classes, However, when I moved back home from residence, my family tasked me with casual house and farm jobs which often clashed with online university classes," Olivia said.

"I had to make major changes to my study environment, including making a study area in my bedroom instead of studying in the family office or kitchen, because family life is often disruptive, affecting my learning and interrupting online classes."

But rather than focus on the challenges of last year, Olivia is viewing the lessons learned in 2020 with a positive lens and is looking forward to what 2021 has in store for her.

"I feel very grateful to say that 2020 has actually been a great year, for me personally," Olivia said.

"While there were many interruptions, I’ve been able to enjoy myself between studying, compared to last year while I was completing Year 12 with difficult circumstances surrounding study and social networks.

"I am really looking forward to second and third-year elective subjects in the Bachelor of Psychology course, as there are various subjects, including social, developmental and behavioural psychology, which interest me a lot and I would like to pursue these further in my career.

"This year, I’ve met heaps of new people and made some really great friends at university. It’s been very refreshing for me to leave my small, country hometown, and have a taste of a regional city in Bendigo."