After a tumultuous two years of lockdowns, interrupted life plans, and learning from the couch instead of on campus, the news of a New Colombo Plan Scholarship was something to celebrate for four Swinburne students.
Alan Occhipinti, Alexandra Irvine, Angus Delaney and Claire Demuth were four of 120 Australian undergraduate students who were each awarded a $70,000 New Colombo Plan Scholarship.
Provided by the Australian Government, the New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program began in 2014 and is designed to deepen Australia’s relationships in the Indo-Pacific region. Students apply to study and undertake internships in 40 locations in the region. For Alan, Alexandra, Angus and Claire, it’s an opportunity that has the potential to open new doors and change the entire trajectory of their lives. Here are their stories.
Telling the story of rising sea levels in Fiji
Angus is a Bachelor of Media and Communications (Professional) student. When he graduates, we wants to work as an environmental reporter. That’s part of the reason he applied for the scholarship – to further investigate how rising sea levels and other climate-related issues are affecting Fiji and its people.
In July 2022, he’ll travel to Fiji to continue his journalism studies at the University of the South Pacific. While there, he plans to undertake an internship with the Fijian Government’s Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA). After that, he plans to travel to Singapore and secure another internship at Reuters Institute.
Angus’s dream job is working for the ABC as a Pacific correspondent. The New Colombo Plan Scholarship could make that a reality.
Angus's scholarship will take him to picturesque Fiji. But he plans to look beneath the idyllic surface and assess how climate change is affecting the region. Photo by Savir C on Unsplash
Engineering a once in a lifetime opportunity
Claire cried when she discovered her application for the scholarship was successful. ‘So many emotions came rushing towards me,’ says Claire, a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Professional) student. For someone who wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do when she first started studying at Swinburne, Claire’s incredibly assured about her future now. ‘As an engineer, I’d love to work on sustainability projects and address climate issues. I want to make a positive impact on the environment and the future,’ she says.
Claire’s scholarship will take her to Johor Bahru and the University of Technology in Malaysia.
‘We source so many of our materials from the Indo Pacific regions. I want to make connections there and understand how to build good working relationships with the regions,’ she says. Claire has secured a paid internship at TATA Consulting Engineers. She’ll work for six months with the business locally, and after Malaysia, will travel to India to work for six months in their Indian office.
‘This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to test myself, put myself in unfamiliar situations, and grow as a person and a professional.’
Opening up opportunities in Taiwan
Alan is a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) student. He envisions a future encompassing solar, wind and cleaner combustion technologies and using these methods as an engineer to design more efficient and environmentally friendly products.
His scholarship will take him to National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan in December 2022. Alan is passionate about mechanical design and engineering, but he is also curious about different societies and communication. When he arrives in Tainan, he will undertake three months of language training in Mandarin.
He sees the New Colombo Plan Scholarship as a way to bring his ideas together, and to open up the door to return to Taiwan in the future. He’s looking forward to the extra-curricular activities, too, including Tai Chi, meeting other students, and everything the culture has on offer. ‘I’m super grateful for the opportunity,’ he says.
A fantastically futuristic future in Tokyo
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) student Alexandra, or Ali, as she prefers to be called, will be travelling to Japan in December of 2022. She will be studying engineering and Japanese language and culture at Aoyama Gakuin University, one of Swinburne’s exchange partners. ‘I’ve always adored Japan and looked to it as a leader in technological development,’ says Ali.
It was 12.30am when Ali found out about her $70k scholarship win. She was in the middle of studying for an upcoming maths exam and bleary-eyed. ‘I had to read the email a few times before I realised what it meant,’ she says. She then proceeded to run around her house waking up her family, and giving and receiving lots of hugs.
‘I applied to the New Colombo Plan because it looked like an incredible opportunity, and there was absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain,’ she says. She encourages other students to do the same.
‘Receiving a New Colombo Plan is a massive honour, and a really big deal. I am so grateful to have been trusted with the opportunity. I’m excited to see where it takes me.’
Ali's scholarship will take her all the way to tech-savvy Tokyo. Photo by Greg Jeanneau on Unsplash
Scholarships at Swinburne
Discover more about the New Colombo Plan Scholarship, as well as other scholarship opportunities at Swinburne which are designed for all sorts of students.