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Impact of COVID-19 hits rural scholars

Posted on : 14 October 2020

Often forgotten during this pandemic are those pursuing their goals via further studies – university and VET students from rural and regional NSW, the scholars who leave the farm behind and take up residency in one of our institutions of higher education. The sudden lockdown and mass evacuation of colleges and universities meant students moved home, took their learning online and confronted the challenges of connectivity and missed opportunities.

Struggles with living expenses when part-time jobs were lost, and mental health was impacted by feelings of isolation and uncertainty, have seen some of our RASF Rural Scholarship recipients forced to defer their studies or to drop out altogether. The fear of being trapped by a lockdown or border closure weighed heavily on some scholars and made the decision for them…

However, showing the true resilience for which our rural communities are recognised, some scholars seized the opportunity to take on more and adapted to the challenges they faced.  Read on below to find out more.

“As a student it was a chaotic time to navigate through your studies. However, life comes with trials and tribulations, and learning to deal with these is crucial in a career like medicine. I volunteered at COVID screening clinics and volunteered countless hours to tutor some of the junior students via Zoom.” Mitchum Bower, Bachelor of Medicine, 5th year.

“I was planning to return to Yass during shut-down for study, but the wifi at home can sometimes run into difficulties and the mobile phone service at home is poor so overall I didn't spend much time at home,” Lucy Bucknell, Doctor of Medicine, 1st year.

“This semester has brought many challenges. Due to the global pandemic, I moved back home for a few months to help out whilst in the midst of the pandemic. Academically, I faced challenges adjusting back to living at home and studying full time” Hannah Cargill, Bachelor of Agriculture, 3rd year.

“The impact of COVID-19 on casual employment has resulted in an inability to work in the same manner as I was previously, and so having the financial support from this scholarship has been a relieving factor and enabled me to continue focusing on my studies without significant financial stress.” Jack Grentell, Doctor of Medicine, 2nd year

“I was able to use studying as a distraction from uncontrollable events happening at the time. I have used TAFE not only to develop knowledge but to use as a distraction. These obstacles have made me a stronger and determined for other challenges! With great deals of support from family and friends, I have been encourage to chase my dreams ... thank you all!!” Heather Walker, Certificate IV in Wool Classing, 1st year.

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