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Spotlight on outstanding Coffs scholars at local International Women’s Day awards


Jessica Nelson
8 March 2019

A passion for women’s health and a fervour for science has seen two Southern Cross University scholars recognised at an International Women’s Day celebration in Coffs Harbour today.

Midwifery student and Chinese national Weiming Wang was awarded a Southern Cross University Coffs Coast International Women’s Day Female Undergraduate Scholarship at the prestigious event, while USA national Kay Davis, who is conducting PhD marine research at Lord Howe Island, accepted her award with a pre-recorded video from the island. The breakfast event, held at C.ex Coffs, was hosted by three women’s groups: the Zonta Club of Coffs Harbour Inc., BPW Coffs Harbour (Business and Professional Women) and the Coffs Coast Business Women’s Network (BWN).

Ms Wang was born and raised in China and has travelled extensively. She previously studied a business degree in China but after seeing how many women lived around the world, realised she wanted to pursue women’s health.

“I volunteered at a women’s home in Kolkata, India, taking care of women who were physically and mentally abused by their family and had experienced trauma. It was a charity organisation founded by Mother Teresa, a female figure who has guided me through the times when I felt lost,” said Weiming, who has also volunteered with Red Cross in Coffs Harbour to welcome refugee women and children into the community.

“When I was travelling in India and Africa, I was shocked by women’s conditions in many places, which inspired me to study this degree and be a midwife. I was also greatly inspired by Dr Catherine Hamlin, an Australian gynaecologist who, with her team, had built six hospitals in Ethiopia for the treatment of labour-induced fistulas, a village to accommodate patients and a midwifery school.”

Weiming said International Women’s Day, a day of acknowledging and celebrating women’s rights and achievements every year, was about empowering women to reach for their dreams and to be given the platform.

My degree trains qualified midwives who empower women in making informed choices during their pregnancy and birth. Midwives are much-needed in many parts of the world and I believe I could be of service to many women in the future,” Weiming said.

Weiming said the support Southern Cross University had given her as an international student and the academic integrity and training of her course were top quality and the $2500 scholarship would assist with the costs of studying as an international student.

Meanwhile, PhD marine researcher Kay Davis’ passion for the oceans was the inspiration for her to move from Minnesota USA to Coffs Harbour to study marine science.

She said a PhD in chemical oceanography will help her better understand and protect coral reefs.

“I feel very fortunate to be a part of Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre as we are NSW's top university in oceanographical research. The ratio of students to academics allows for unrivalled one-on-one mentorship, giving opportunities to learn firsthand from the field's top scientists,” she said.

“I hope this award will inspire other women to follow their passion in science, so we can raise our relative percentage in STEM careers above the current 16 per cent.”

The Scholarships, sponsored by Coffs Coast International Women’s Day to assist students who have achieved outstanding results, were presented by Southern Cross University’s Director of Strategic Projects Lorraine Gordon who was named Rural Community Leader in the 2018 Farmer of the Year awards and is a former NSW ABC Rural Woman of the Year.

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International Women's Day 2019

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