HORSHAM’S Christina Simon has encouraged Wimmera students to make the most of life-changing university scholarship opportunities.
Ms Simon is part of Deakin University’s Change 100 Lives campaign, which enables disadvantaged students to access higher education.
The campaign aims to remove geographical barriers, assist students with personal or financial hardships and provide emergency financial assistance in times of need.
It also helps those who are the first in their families to reach university.
Ms Simon, 26, is in her second year of a Bachelor of Commerce.
“I got into the course I wanted, but after talking to my partner about it we realised I could not afford to go,” she said.
“The next day I got a letter telling me I’d received a first-in-family scholarship.
“If I hadn’t received that, I wouldn’t have been able to attend university. It changed my life.”
Ms Simon is hoping she can repay the favour by helping change the lives of others.
“These opportunities are out there,” she said.
“Students can apply when they put in their Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre preferences.
“Mature age students can also apply for them when they fill out the forms for courses.
“It’s a resource I think needs to be used more.”
Ms Simon shared her experience at an event thanking the campaign’s sponsors in Geelong on Tuesday night.
“It was an amazing event at the Deakin Waterfront campus,” she said.
“I got to meet the vice-chancellor Jane den Hollander, Frank Costa and a whole range of important people.
“I think it’s a wonderful campaign. It aims to bridge the gap between people with a low socio-economic background and those people who already have a path to university set for them.
“I’d like to encourage more people to apply.”
Ms Simon is completing her degree online from Horsham, in between caring for three young children.
“It has certainly been a challenge,” she said.
“Because you’re not in that classroom environment, you don’t get to share new ideas or interact with people.
“Not having a study partner also makes it difficult.”
This is set to change, with Ms Simon recently participating in a virtual classroom via webcam.
“It’s been great, I feel like I’m right there in the classroom with everyone else,” she said.
Ms Simon said she hoped businesses, groups and individual donors would continue to support the campaign.
“It would be great if Deakin could offer more scholarships, particularly for rural students,” she said.
She said people could visit www.deakin.edu.au/change-100-lives for more information or to donate to the campaign.