With scholarship support, the sky is the limit

Whether it's studying tiny creatures on the seafloor or learning to save lives in the sky, meet two University of Tasmania scholars intent on shaping the world beneath, above, and all around us.
Group of students sitting and standing on stairs.

Originally published in The University of Tasmania's Impact magazine.

Image: UTAS GAF scholars Jay Saward, Bianca Jones, Neve Clippingdale, Catherine Bean, Oliver Bailey. Photo credit: Oi Studios. 

Neve Clippingdale was only two years old when she first saw a jellyfish dance.

Eyes pressed against the glass, the toddler from the North-West Coast of Tasmania was mesmerised by the strange pulsating blob inside the aquarium.

A curiosity about the natural world has been a constant in Neve’s life, whether she is bushwalking, scuba diving, reading, or adding shells and rocks to her extensive collections.

“For a while I even had a bug collection, much to the horror of my mum who was constantly finding bugs in her freezer,” Neve recalls.

“Since that trip to the aquarium, I have read many books on marine life, watched documentaries, been snorkelling, scuba diving, and in high school I took every science class possible.

“When I was accepted into a Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science at the University of Tasmania, I cried I was so happy.”

There was only one potential problem – Neve lived in Westbury, a small town in northern Tasmania, which is more than 200km away from the Hobart campus.

Fortunately, a friend told her about The George Alexander Foundation (GAF) Scholarships.

For the past decade, more than 50 University of Tasmania students, who had to move home to start their tertiary education, have received life-changing financial support through the prestigious scholarship program.

The independent philanthropic organisation founded by the late George Alexander AM 50 years ago has supported more than 1,000 Australian students, recognising their academic excellence, leadership and commitment to community.

“George Alexander’s early life experiences of hardship and a lack of education, then, later in life, the support of a scholarship, meant he was very conscious of the barriers to pursuing educational opportunities and the benefits scholarships can bring to life,” The Honourable Susan Crennan AC KC, Governor of The George Alexander Foundation said.

“As a result, he was motivated to help others access opportunities to succeed.”

Neve was delighted to become a GAF scholar in 2022.

“I really love that George Alexander used his wealth to break down barriers for others, so they could access further education to one day serve the community,” Neve said.

For as long as Neve can remember, she has given up her time to play music, support older people and help children learn to read.

The scholarship is enabling her to stay at residential college, Jane Franklin Hall in Hobart, which has given her stability and social support.

“I absolutely love Jane and have made some wonderful friends there,” Neve said.

“This scholarship has also allowed me to be more financially independent and has reduced the burden on my parents, and I am so thankful that GAF decided I was worth supporting and that I had the potential to be one of their scholars!”

Neve is in the second year of her degree and she’s still fascinated by jellyfish, but is developing a passion for benthic ecology (the study of marine life on the seafloor).

Fellow GAF scholar, Murphy Knowles also has a clear view of what is on his horizon, thanks to the support of the Foundation.

The University of Tasmania Paramedicine student has his sights set on a career as a Flight Paramedic, performing advanced medical treatments thousands of metres high in the sky.

“It’s an exciting time to enter the profession, with the standard of paramedical skills and knowledge growing exponentially to meet evolving health demands,” Murphy said.

Murphy is driven by an interest in people and their stories and a desire to provide timely care to those in need.

He’s already made waves for all the right reasons in his hometown on Tasmania’s North-West Coast, serving in the Ulverstone Surf Life Saving Club for more than 15 years.

It was here that he discovered his innate ability to remain calm, think clearly and act quickly in stressful situations – skills that will serve him well in the emergency services.

When he’s not patrolling beaches, Murphy is responding to emergency call-outs as a member of the Ulverstone Emergency Response team, or supporting the Lifesaving Advisory Committee.

Murphy plans to practice Paramedicine in rural and remote areas and continue to contribute to public safety in his community.

This is where the scholarship has been of most assistance to him.

“It has enabled me to continue volunteering in a substantial capacity, without diverting attention from my important studies,” Murphy said.

“I am extremely grateful for the Foundation’s support.”