How did you feel when you were awarded a George Alexander Foundation scholarship?
I will never forget the afternoon I got the call that I had been awarded the $10,000 GAF scholarship for academic success. I honestly thought there had been a mistake; I didn't even get my hopes up. I just said, “Oh, I think there has been a mistake; I didn’t apply for the $10,000 scholarship but rather the GAF bursary” and when I was told that they had bumped me up a category, I nearly fell over. To say I was honoured would be an understatement. I’m pretty sure for the first few weeks, I was still in complete shock! Once that shock wore off, I just kept pinching myself, it was all so surreal. Getting this scholarship all of a sudden not only meant a huge financial burden was lifted, but being associated with such a prestigious organisation gave me opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.
What has it meant to you? What has it made possible?
Being awarded this scholarship made it possible to concentrate fully on my studies. I was 24 and married when I returned to full-time study, and having to swap full-time work for the full-time study was tough financially. I am fortunate enough to have a very supportive husband who didn't complain that he had to take on the full financial burden of our household. I was able to pay for my books as I needed them instead of putting the cost on my credit card, get to and from campus without the stress of being able to afford it; and buy my uniform without worry. The best thing was I could completely immerse myself in my studies, feeling like I was still contributing to the running of our household. This scholarship took a lot of stress from the equation and made my time studying far more enjoyable.
As I said earlier, it has also given me more opportunities. I was chosen to be a Student Ambassador for the Gordon TAFE, I have no doubt that being awarded the GAF scholarship played a big role in being selected for this role. Working closely with the marketing team gave me fantastic connections and skills in a work environment.
What have you been up to since graduating?
I graduated my Diploma of Nursing in 2013. In the last few months as the workload of study eased, I took up part-time work while studying. I was employed as a Personal Care Assistant at a local nursing home where I did one of my placements. I really enjoyed working there, especially in the dementia-specific wing, which although challenging at times, was extremely rewarding. This casual work also taught me skills and abilities I could later put into practice in the acute health care setting.
In 2014 I was fortunate enough to secure a nursing graduate year, which for Enrolled Nurses is a very rare and sought-after opportunity. I am sure that being awarded the GAF scholarship helped me stand out from other applicants. Although incredibly challenging, I immensely enjoyed my graduate year; my eyes were opened to the amazing opportunities I have before me in the world of nursing.
On completing my grad year, I applied for part-time work on the fast-paced surgical ward, I secured a permanent position which I still hold to this day. Like I said I was inspired by the nursing world at my fingertips, so at the time of completing my grad year I started working at the public hospital casually as well as working at a psychiatric facility. I enjoyed all these different roles but soon realised it was unrealistic to keep up the three jobs. Currently, I am still working part-time on the surgical ward surrounded by amazing nurses and doctors and part of a multidisciplinary team who helps patients reach amazing milestones.
I have also been working casually at a psychiatric facility since 2015, which I am enjoying. I truly enjoy working in both these diversely different areas and believe it gives me a better understanding of what holistic nursing care means.
Do you have any plans for further study?
When I finished year twelve in 2005 I had no intention of returning to study or further education; I felt the classroom was a place I didn’t thrive. So already, it amazes me that I not only returned to study but that I completed my Nursing diploma with high grades and an amazing scholarship behind me. Currently, my 32-year-old husband is a first-year carpenter so we are a little tied financially for the next four years, but I am hoping in the future, I will be able to go to university and become a Registered Nurse (Division 1). My “dream future goal” is to travel Australia to work in remote and rural nursing.
If you could say anything to George Alexander, what would it be?
THANK YOU! The foundation you established has not only helped me but also thousands of others to make returning to study a real, achievable possibility! For this, I cannot thank you enough!
What would you say to students considering applying for a George Alexander Foundation scholarship?
Receiving my $10,000 scholarship took the financial burden off my returning to full-time study. It gave me extra drive to always give my best. I felt like The George Alexander Foundation invested in me, this was invaluable for my time at The Gordon TAFE. Definitely apply for a scholarship that you meet the criteria for; I did and still five years later am feeling honoured and rewarded by the graciousness of these guys! All the best!