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Meet the Recipients

2016 RAS Rural Scholar

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Cassie - A Rural Vet in the Making

Cassie is studying a double degree in Veterinary Science and Veterinary Biology at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga and has always wanted to be a rural vet. Her family struggled with years of drought on their farm and making ends meet at university has been pretty tough.  Cassie left home with $200 in her pocket and, in her first year of studies, woke up at 3am every day and cycled 15 kilometres to and from work in a local dairy.   “After being knocked back twice previously, I was absolutely overjoyed when I was finally accepted to start my veterinary science degree in 2009.  While at University I had to budget very carefully to make ends meet, sometimes living off as little as $30 per week,” said Cassie.  Currently in her last year of a six-year course and still working at the dairy, Cassie until her RASF scholarship was having trouble affording text books.  This semester she has all five books her course requires. Whatever it takes, it is clear that Cassie has the passion and determination needed to achieve her dreams. A scholarship from the RAS Foundation has helped Cassie focus on her studies as she strives to become a qualified vet.  “When I finish uni I hope to join a vet clinic doing what I love most – putting my passion for animals into practice whilst engaging and educating the producers to create a more sustainable and profitable industry for everyone to benefit from.” Read more

Jake - In pursuit of Justice for Indigenous Youth

Jake is a community-minded young man who cares deeply for the youth of his hometown of Kempsey on the mid-north coast. With the assistance of a RAS Foundation Scholarship, Jake is studying law at the University of Technology Sydney with the aim of one day working for the Aboriginal Legal Service in his hometown.  “As a young Indigenous person living in a rural town, I found it difficult growing up as there were few role models in my community to guide young Aboriginal people,” said Jake. “Many of my friends and family members dropped out of school and turned to drugs, and these same people often find themselves in trouble with the law.”  It was within these tough circumstances that Jake developed a passion for law and with considerable determination went on to achieve Dux of legal studies at his high school. He believes once he becomes a lawyer, his deep understanding of the local culture could help to improve access to legal services in Kempsey, particularly for Indigenous youth.  “In my hometown crime rates are high, predominantly amongst youth and many people live in poverty,” said Jake. “Being able to practice law will give me the opportunity to give back to my community and offer assistance to those in need of help.”  Jake juggles a significant study load but still finds time to contribute to volunteer groups on campus including the Indigenous Student Collective, where he has taken on a leadership role. Jake has lived through some tough times, including coping with the loss of his father at an early age, however, his positive attitude and commitment to fulfilling his dream of becoming a lawyer has not wavered. He is grateful for the support of the RAS Foundation Scholarship to help him fulfill this dream.  “It was a huge financial risk for me to study law in Sydney and without this scholarship it would have been difficult to afford living expenses,” Jake said. “My study load is quite demanding which makes it difficult to work part-time, so the RAS Foundation Scholarship has been very important to me succeeding at university.” Read more

Joanne - On Track to Teach the Children of Tibooburra

Hailing from the tiny outback town of Tibooburra in far northwest NSW, Joanne had worked in administration at the Tibooburra Outback School of the Air for nine years when she began to feel that she could make a bigger difference in front of the class rather than in the office.  “Our little school finds it hard to employ teachers due to our remoteness and isolation,” Joanne said. “Working in such a remote location doesn’t appeal to many people, so often our teachers come here and don’t really like it because it’s so far away from their friends and family.”  Joanne is currently studying a Bachelor of Educational Studies full-time by distance through Charles Sturt University in Dubbo. Once she has finished her degree she’s determined to put it to good use. “I’m passionate about ensuring everybody can get a good education. I really want to encourage the children of our town to stay at school and get an education in order to improve their lives,” said Joanne.  The RAS Foundation Scholarship that Joanne received has meant she’s been able to afford to travel the 1800km round trip to attend residential school each term in Dubbo and buy textbooks.  “Last year I found that by the time I received my textbooks from the library, it was almost time to send them back,” Joanne said. “Having my own textbooks on hand has made studying a breeze and I am very grateful to have received the scholarship which helped me to afford them.”  Despite the many kilometres behind the wheel and the challenge of juggling full-time work and study, as well as raising three children, Joanna has taken it all in her stride and even achieved excellent marks this year. It’s been a lot harder than she thought it would be, but it’s the connections Joanne has made with other students which are helping to beat the isolation of long distance study.  “I’ve been really lucky to meet some amazing and inspiring fellow Aboriginal people doing the same course who also feel passionate about encouraging our children to understand the importance of education,” Joanne said.  Read more

Ram - From Refugee to Rural Advocate

Born in a Bhutanese Refugee Camp in Nepal, Ram knows first-hand what a lack of basic medical services can do to a community. For the first 16 years of his life, he saw people in his refugee camp dying every day from preventable diseases like influenza and malaria. It was these tragic experiences that shaped his determination to be a doctor.     The hardships of living in a refugee camp and going to school in a tent with no electricity, desks or even chairs ended in 2009 when Ram and his family were settled in Australia through the Permanent Humanitarian Visa Program.  “It felt amazing to land in Sydney with the excitement and hope of starting a new and better life. The same day we travelled to our new home town of Albury… it was like a dream come true,” Ram said.      Although he could barely speak or understand English, Ram started Year 10 at a local high school just a month later. He went on to achieve Dux of his school in Year 12 – a testament to his dedication and sheer hard work. It was then he realised his dream of becoming a doctor could be achievable.    He is currently in his second year of a medical science degree at the Australian National University, and plans to fulfill his dream to be a rural doctor and give back to the community of Albury.    Receiving a RAS Foundation Rural Scholarship in 2013 and 2014 has taken the financial pressure off and allowed Ram to focus on his studies. “My family faces extreme financial challenges due to our refugee background. The Scholarship has helped me pay for my student accommodation and education resources. It has made a massive difference in my life and really boosted my desire to work in rural NSW”.     Read more
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