$60,000 scholarship boost for La Trobe University's Mildura students

$60,000 scholarship boost for La Trobe University's Mildura students

07 Aug 2008

Despite their own personal hardships, La Trobe University students' Silvana and Jemma are determined to put something back into the Mildura community, making them both worthy recipients of the Vice Chancellor's Regional Scholarship Award.

After emigrating from Argentina in 1997, Silvana used art therapy as a way to help adjust to life in Mildura. Now, in the second year of her Visual Arts degree, Silvana is working towards offering her own art therapy classes.

First year student Jemma, hopes to use her social work degree to help students during their high school years.

As scholarship winners, Jemma and Silvana will each receive three thousand dollars for each year of their degree (up to 4 years, or twelve thousand dollars) to help cover the costs of studying.

The La Trobe Vice Chancellor's Regional Scholarships are awarded to five students enrolling at La Trobe's Mildura campus each year - the total value of scholarships is up to $60,000. The same value of scholarships is awarded to other regional campuses including Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

La Trobe University's Mildura Campus Executive Director, Kent Farrell, says the scholarships are a reflection of the quality of students produced in the area.

"There is a lot of talent in the region, and this is a way of investing in, and retaining that talent."

"At the moment, economic conditions make studying at University demanding. It is really difficult to juggle work and study, let alone if you have a family to support," says Mr Farrell.

Mr. Farrell says that the commitment from La Trobe goes beyond the Vice Chancellor's Regional Scholarship as the University encourages local businesses to engage with young people.

"For me, the scholarship has made the difference between being able to study at University or having to leave," says Silvana, a single mother with three children.

"We are approaching a target list of businesses and individuals to urge them to invest in the development of young people in Mildura. Silvana is right, unfortunately, for many students money makes the difference of being able to attend university and not" he says.

Although the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) means that students are not required to pay for tuition fees until they are working full time and earning over the threshold , many students find it increasingly difficult to survive on Austudy, which only permits them to work 10 hours a week before their allowance is reduced or cut off.

Before she won the scholarship, Silvana was struggling to pay for the materials she needed for her subjects, like canvases, glass, paint, and brushes.

20 year old Jemma, works two shifts a week in a bar to supplement her student income.

"The late hours are really hard, especially around exam time, but you get used to it," she says.

Jemma says that the scholarship has helped her immensely, especially since her father suffered a horrific work accident and their vineyard development business closed- times have been tough emotionally and financially. However, despite her own challenges, Jemma's goal is to provide support for local students to stay at school.

Both Jemma and Silvana recommend any student, or potential student to apply for the scholarship. Silvana frankly put her life on paper when she applied.

"I said I was a good investment, and that the money would go back into society. I will graduate, go back to work and I will make a real difference. I feel a moral duty to perform and do well, and I certainly don't skip classes!"

Applications for 2009 are now open.

For more information on The Vice Chancellor's Regional Scholarships, please visit www.latrobe.edu.au/scholarships or ph 5051 4000.

Students can access the scholarship application online via MyInfo: www.vtac.edu.au/myinfo.

Applications for Commonwealth Accommodation & Education Costs Scholarships (CAS & CECS) & La Trobe undergraduate scholarships for 2009 will close 5pm 10 October 2008. (no late applications will be accepted).





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