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

La Trobe University awards up to $60,000 annually to its most deserving students at Shepparton Campus, and the Vice Chancellor's Regional Scholarships (LVCRS) provide recipients with three thousand dollars for each year of their degree.

The LVCRS are also available for students commencing first-year full time undergraduate studies at each of La Trobe's other regional campuses, Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo, and Mildura.

The focus for the scholarships is financially disadvantaged students who are both community minded and committed to their studies.

This year's Shepparton LVCRS recipient, Penny Nash, and 2007 recipient Simone Clarke, use the money to pay for the ‘hidden' costs of studying.

Arts student Simone drives one hour round trip to University every day and struggles to cover the cost of petrol. While being burdened with fuel cost is not unique these days, its just one of many challenges faced by Simone.

Unable to work because of her University and family commitments, Simone says the juggling act can be demanding. Despite money and time being tight, Simone's dream at the end of the university tunnel makes things worthwhile. She hopes to complete her Diploma of Education.

Simone says she feels extremely privileged to have received the scholarship.

"They don't give the scholarships lightly- you have to prove that you really need it," she says.

"The scholarship has taken away a lot of worry because you can bank on that money coming in, and I can focus on study and looking after my son. I am a widow, and along with my Austudy, the scholarship money is my bread and butter," she says.

While studying at La Trobe Shepparton, Simone is also close to obtaining a certificate in theology, a course she completes by correspondence. At the end of her course, she hopes to work at one of Shepparton's state high schools as a chaplain.

"Chaplains offer religious guidance, but they are also can be a friend who offers support, and young people need a lot of support," she says.

"Once I have finished my Arts Degree I will do a Dip Ed at Shepparton which will make me versatile enough to teach history and English. You really need to be able to provide a multitude of skills," Simone said.

Executive Director of the La Trobe Shepparton Campus, Liz Lavender said the scholarships are necessary to help students stay at University.

"The Vice Chancellor's Regional Scholarship is one of many equity scholarships La Trobe offers, and this one is vital to the Shepparton community, considering the large number of students we have experiencing hardship," Ms Lavender said.

"The drought is just one of the challenges we face as a community."

Ms Lavender said that the Shepparton Campus is unusual. A 2007 Equity and Access report found that 66% of students come from rural and low socio- economic backgrounds.

"Although these students are performing well across the majority of indicators there has been some decline in the retention rates, and their level of success.

"Many of our students start their studies as mature age students and generally they experience more domestic, geographic and work limitations and this hinders their capacity to access study away from home.

This year the campus introduced a four day transition program to help address some of these issues and "these types of scholarships help students continue to study, and this is their true value," said Ms Lavender.

For media enquires contact Simone Clark on 0407 801 703.