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Indigenous scholars pursue their passion for STEM

Students from Brisbane and Bathurst are the inaugural recipients of the Origin Foundation Grant King Indigenous Scholarships program. Caitlin Ramsey and Patrick Long were selected for the scholarships which aim to help two Indigenous students each year study for a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

STEM skills are rapidly becoming the foundations of future workplaces, with most of Australia’s industries subject to technology-driven disruption. With their studies, Caitlin and Patrick will be well-placed to play a role in Australia’s emerging economy.

Each receive a full residential scholarship valued at $24,000 a year, enabling them to live and study at the University of NSW. The university’s Indigenous Programs Unit, Nura Gili, provides entry pathways for Indigenous students in all faculties and programs, and will provide support throughout their studies. Caitlin and Patrick will also have access to mentoring by Origin’s former CEO and President of the Business Council of Australia, Grant King.

“I wanted to be a teacher,” said Caitlin, who is studying for an Engineering/Science degree. “I come from a family of teachers and I really enjoyed tutoring younger kids at school. I loved maths, IT and biology, but never really considered computer science because I'd never heard of girls doing it. Once I looked into it, I realised that IT and engineering had good job prospects, and when I found that UNSW is the only university in Australia to offer a computer science degree in bioinformatics – the perfect combination of what I’m most interested in – I was determined to study here.”

With the high cost of living in Sydney, Caitlin doubted she could have made the move from her native Brisbane without the scholarship. “I applied for many scholarships, but I particularly wanted this one as it removes the stress of having to get a job to pay for my living expenses so I can focus on my studies.

“Having a link with industry in Origin Energy appealed, too, and I’m looking forward to the mentoring and networking opportunities that will further enrich my learning and experiences at UNSW.”

Patrick is studying Business/Science and said he was determined to undertake his studies at UNSW. “I could have gone to uni in my home town but I was solely focused on getting into UNSW as it has such an excellent reputation. My dad came to UNSW on a program similar to the Indigenous Access Scheme so he knew that its support would enable me to do my very best at uni. And I couldn't have moved to Sydney without the scholarship, so I'm very thankful for that.”

Patrick has embraced the vibrancy of university life: “I am loving uni. In addition to financial support to live on campus, Nura Gili offered me an instant network of new friends, a quiet place to study and access to tutors whenever I need some extra support to get on top of my studies.

“The University genuinely wants to see us succeed.”

Caitlin and Patrick may be the first, but by 2021, there will be eight undergraduates each year studying with the support of our scholarships program. We are proud to be helping generations of Indigenous students aspiring to careers in STEM fields to realise their dreams.

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