Helping to champion women in STEM

Karuna Santosa

When a scholarship means much more than the money

First-year forensic science and psychology student Ms Karuna Santosa doesn't claim to be brave but she knows there are different forms of courage.

Ms Santosa is the inaugural winner of the Kath Watson Scholarship – valued at up to $10,000 – which funds female students experiencing highly challenging obstacles to education.

With no family support, Ms Santosa – a single mother of a five-year old boy – was unable to complete her first scholarship at another university. She had to be relocated by a women's refuge. She was also stalked.

She has since used her Swinburne enrolment and scholarship as evidence to apply for her existing accommodation, countering pressures to endure further challenging relocations.

"I named my son Sankara, which means auspicious. Even though something really bad happened to me, I see him coming into my life as the best thing that ever happened," she said.

Key public and private sector services need reform she said.

"I would like to see health services, crisis and legal services work more closely together but remain independent. That’s the benefit of studying forensic science with psychology. I want to be a part of that. So women, children and men receive a more holistic approach when adverse events occur.’’

The Kath Watson Scholarship meant much more than the funds, essential though they were, she said.

"Kath has improved the rights of women, parents and disadvantaged youth in Victorian education. Being chosen by her foundation has improved my rights to education. My son now has access to great schools in the local area, and we can stay in our home longer."

Swinburne is one of only two universities in Australia offering a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Science and Psychology.

Karuna Santosa, Kath Watson Scholarship winner

Generous funding supports students with challenging obstacles

Karuna Santosa, Kath Watson Scholarship winner