La Trobe student wins full scholarship

The future is looking bright for a La Trobe University dentistry student after winning the PSA Insurance Scholarship Program in Dentistry for Rural Victoria.

Sponsored by the Victorian Medical Insurance Agency Ltd, the $68,000 scholarship financially supports a student who wishes to practice dentistry in rural Victoria and is highly involved with their local community.

Nicole Reii Wong – who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Dentistry/Master of Dentistry degree at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus – was this week awarded the full scholarship.

Miss Wong said she felt incredibly honoured to be named the 2018 recipient.

“I’d just like to say a huge thank you to PSA Insurance and the Victorian Medical Insurance Agency for this scholarship,” Miss Wong said.

“It means more than anything to me and my family. It’s always been my dream to study and work in dentistry as an oral maxillofacial surgeon.

“I was born with a cleft lip, so I’ve had a lot of interactions with surgeons and dentists throughout my life. They really inspired me to give back in the same way and help others who might be having trouble eating or who are being bullied at school.”

Miss Wong made the move from Mooroolbark to Bendigo to commence study this year.

As well as tuition, the scholarship will cover accommodation and meals on campus, clinical placements, instruments, textbooks, uniforms and entry requirement fees.

“To help pay my expenses, I travel back to Melbourne every weekend to work as tutor,” Miss Wong said.

“This scholarship will ease the financial pressures on me and my family, and it will allow me to reduce some of my work hours so I can focus more on my study and community involvement.”

Bachelor of Health Sciences in Dentistry/Master of Dentistry Course Coordinator Dr David Goode said this scholarship announcement further enforces La Trobe’s commitment to improving health outcomes for rural communities.

“By fully immersing our undergraduate dental students in rural clinical placements, we expose our students to life and practice outside the major metropolitan centres, ultimately increasing the number of graduates seeking employment within rural practice.”

“The PSA Insurance Scholarship provides significant financial support for one financially disadvantaged student to attain their aspirations to become a dental practitioner and thereby support the mission of La Trobe.”

Miss Wong said making the move to Bendigo has been one of the most positive experiences of her life.

“I decided to study at La Trobe Bendigo because of its rural focus,” Miss Wong said.

“For a long time I’ve been passionate about closing the gap between rural and city communities – whether in education or health.

“Being able to study here will give me a better pathway to work rurally and help communities who have limited access to health services.”

Media contact: Kate O’Connor - 0436 189 629 or k.o'