GAF Story

Che Hooper

Griffith University
Bachelor of Biomedical Science/Diploma of Languages (Spanish)

Yougn woman sitting on a low wall overlooking Gaudi buildings in Barcelona

Che shares her experience of international volunteer placements in Cambodia and India and why she believes volunteering is important for career and personal development.

How did you feel when you were awarded a George Alexander Foundation scholarship?

I felt incredibly happy and relieved. The period between the end of high school and the start of university was a very stressful time trying to get everything sorted so that I would have a place to live in Brisbane as I had to move away from home to study. Getting the GAF Scholarship took a huge weight off my shoulders as I had affordable accommodation and could focus my time on organising the other aspects of university. I also knew that I would be able to afford to live away from home as my accommodation costs are taken care of, meaning I only had to work to earn my day-to-day spending.

What has it meant to you? What has it made possible?

I have the GAF scholarship to thank for my GPA of 7. I have scored a high distinction in every subject I have attempted so far, and one of the biggest factors in allowing me to obtain such high results is that I have the time to dedicate to my studies. Without the GAF scholarship, I would have to work at least another eight hours a week in order to cover my accommodation costs. These eight hours would have to come out of my study time, which would negatively impact my results, especially as most semesters I am undertaking five subjects – which is more than the full-time study load.

Where are you hoping your course will take you?

I hope to be able to study medicine after this degree. Since starting university in 2014, I have completely changed my mind about where I want this degree to take me. When I finished high school I had no idea what I wanted to do except that I knew I wanted to study something related to science, but I didn't want to be a doctor. I also expected to change my degree a number of times until I found something I was passionate about. However, I have loved Biomedical Science since my first semester and now wouldn't dream of changing. It's made me realise that I would love to be a doctor, to continue to learn about what I am studying now and to be able to use that knowledge all over the world to help give people access to the medical care they deserve. I added a Diploma in Languages to my degree so that I will be able to communicate with and reach a greater number of people. 

Do you do any community/volunteer work? Why is this important to you?

Yes – I have done a couple of international volunteer placements in Cambodia and India. Earlier this year, I did some work with Orange Sky Laundry, a mobile laundry service for the homeless, and over summer, I am helping out at a day respite service for adults with disabilities.

Volunteering is so important, it’s a great way to learn new skills, get out into the community and interact with people I wouldn't otherwise get a chance to talk to. It's also so rewarding and a great way to try activities to see if it’s something I would like to do more of in the future. For example, I chose to volunteer at the day service for adults with disabilities over the summer because I currently do some personal caring for a young girl with disabilities. Not only am I hoping to gain skills and insights that will help me in that job, but I also wanted to see if it was something I would like to focus on in my career. 

If you could say anything to George Alexander, what would it be?

You’ve made fulfilling my goals so much easier. I’ve been able to do some amazing, eye-opening things in the past two years thanks to the GAF scholarship. I have travelled overseas to volunteer and study abroad, and I’ve been able to maintain high results thanks to the fact that my study time doesn’t have to compete with my work time. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and I hope there are more big things ahead in my future.

It’s a pretty incredible thing to be able to continue changing lives after you’ve died. Congratulations on still doing something you loved. That’s inspirational. 

Gaze into the crystal ball… what do you see for yourself 10 years from now?

The ultimate goal would be to be a doctor working within disadvantaged communities to allow more people to access one of their fundamental human rights – the right to adequate medical care. I would love to work with organisations such as Medicines Sans Frontiers to help people struck by disasters or in countries whose medical system is struggling or not meeting their needs. I love travelling and immersing myself in new cultures, so to be able to combine that with my desire to change the lives of others and make a career out of it would be incredible.