It all started when I landed in Sydney. I had just come home from a long day of opening bank accounts, getting a phone number, shopping for bed linen… sorting out my life basically! I put my new sim card in my phone, starting up a new +61 number after so many years of living outside Australia. As my signal bars appeared, notifications flooded in from friends and family wishing me good luck for the newest chapter of my life. As I was scrolling through, one particular email caught my attention. I froze.
Slowly but cautiously, I opened the email, my heart beating faster and faster, and my mind hoping that I was correct about the email's subject. I read on: "We refer to your application and interview for the Women in Engineering Scholarship Program". That was it – I jumped and ran outside, laughing and shouting at the top of my lungs, to break the news to my parents. This was possibly the most memorable moment of my life.
Receiving a WIE scholarship not only gave me something to be extremely proud of but also changed my outlook on university life. Knowing that my hard work in high school had resulted in a scholarship reminded me that I should grab every opportunity that came my way for the four years of my degree. My mantra throughout my engineering degree then became "Yes!". Yes to every opportunity, every chance to try something new or to improve.
The morning after I received my scholarship, I rolled my suitcases into my new home for the next year: Fig Tree Hall. Within two hours of arriving, I asked the staff and leaders how I could get involved at the college. It took me just one week to sign up, campaign and be elected as the Social Director of the House Committee. My WIE scholarship was the spark which gave me the confidence to even apply for the role.
Like most things, this opportunity led to a multitude of others – none of which would have been possible without the scholarship. After my year on the house committee, I went on to become the Residential Student Fellow; a prestigious staff role at the college that just one year ago, I was new to. Along with college, I had the opportunity to try other roles with various societies and UNSW departments. I was part of an academic subcommittee of the Civil Engineering School's Student Society (CEVSOC) and worked part-time at the Division of Philanthropy as a Student Development Representative. I only had the time and motivation to do all of this because I knew I was supported by my scholarship and had to make the most of every minute of every day.
Being on a scholarship not only gave me the gift of time and financial support but also provided some invaluable experiences. For example, I was asked to MC the Engineering Scholarships Ceremony in second year alongside the then Dean of Engineering, Professor Mark Hoffman. I was also invited to scholarship meet and greets where I made some of my closest friends via the Women in Engineering Orientation Day in first year.
I was lucky to have the encouragement from some inspirational and motivating women who are the best at what they do. The Manager of Student Opportunities, the Women in Engineering Manager and the Programs Officer have been an integral part of shaping my experience at UNSW. Being constantly in touch and asking for help when needed as well expressing my ambition to do more for the Women in Engineering cohort enabled me to become an Engineering Student Ambassador and receive mentorship by accomplished alumna.
Receiving a Women in Engineering Scholarship has completely shaped my degree and motivated me to do better and reach higher every single day. It's an honour that I am forever grateful for and hope that future students who are given this feather in their cap will make use of for all their years to come.