Broken Hill student awarded 2018 McLean Scholarship by Country Education Foundation
The Country Education Foundation (CEF) has awarded its 2018 McLean Scholarship to 18-year-old, Sophie Nelson of Broken Hill.
Sophie is the lastest beneficiary of the McLean Scholarship, which is worth $15,000 over three years. She attended Willyama High School, and completed her HSC in 2017.
Sophie has enrolled at the University of Wollongong and will study medicine, with the ambition to specialize in cardiothoracic surgery, and one day aims to give back to country communities like Broken Hill and its surrounds.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. I want to come back if I can because I feel as though we have very little specialization in Broken Hill and I’m passionate about helping provide better services in the area,” Sophie said.
CEF CEO Wendy Cohen said it is vital all students, no matter their location, have the opportunity to continue their education.
“Growing up in Broken Hill should not be a barrier to pursuing your dreams, but it can be when that dream involves tertiary study. We’re hearing stories of rural kids not going on to uni simply because they can’t afford the living costs and that’s something CEF is very keen to redress through our scholarship program,” Ms Cohen said.
“The McLean Foundation-funded scholarship recognizes the hurdles country students face in attaining an education, this is why this scholarship specifically targets school leavers with aspirations from the Broken Hill region. The beneficiaries of this scholarship deserve an education, as do all country kids.”
Rob and Paula McLean, founders of the McLean Foundation, said they are proud to be helping Broken Hill’s students. Rob was raised and schooled in Broken Hill, before leaving to pursue university.
“We feel that things have changed a lot in Broken Hill, but what hasn’t changed is that there is a lot of really talented students who would benefit from having the opportunity of a tertiary education. That’s really who the scholarship is aimed at,” Rob said.
“Sophie fits the criteria – she’s a very talented student, she’s somebody that without a scholarship her path would be that much harder.”
“We were really taken with her country manner, her humility, politeness and appreciation, and quiet confidence.”
Sophie said this scholarship will ease financial pressure on her small family, especially her mother who works hard to provide for Sophie and her younger brother.
“Mum actually cried when I rang her at work to tell her. She just burst into tears,” Sophie said.
“Even though there are a lot of other costs and expenses, accommodation is a really big thing for mum. I know she was stressed about that, and this money is a big chunk off my accommodation costs.”
Sophie said the McLean Scholarship application process not only considered her academic results and financial situation, but her desire for an education and overall professional and personal ambitions.
“It was probably the most thought I’d put into any of the scholarships I applied for. I feel like this one was more about who I am, not just about my situation. Many of the other scholarships are impersonal, so I really liked showing who I am with this one,” Sophie said.
“The weight has been lifted off our shoulders, it’s worth all the time I put into it.”