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Paying it forward – why scholarships matter

man and woman smilling at camera


8 December 2023

It’s not every day you get to sit down for a chat with the person who is making your studies easier but that’s what happened to Community Welfare student Cynthia McGrath recently.

Cynthia is the recipient of the 2023 Bowen Education Fund Scholarship and she met her scholarship donor, Peter Bowen, for the first time at the Northern Rivers campus.

Both shared their stories of how education has made a difference in their lives.

Cynthia, a single mother of two young children, said that receiving the scholarship gave her a sense of validation and support from the community.

“It was like having someone believe in me. I feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing,” she said.

Cynthia’s return to study was inspired by a family centre worker at a playgroup, who prompted her to pursue a degree in Community Welfare so that she too could help women and families.

“I’d really like to help them enhance their overall wellbeing in life and empower them to do what they want to do,” she said.

“It was like having someone believe in me. I feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing.”

A woman in a garden looking at the camera

Peter also received a scholarship when he was a student and said that it had allowed him to pursue education and that had made all the difference in the world to his career and his life.

“I came from a modest family but education provided me with a successful career, financial security, and a lot of personal satisfaction.

“When you look back upon your life, you realise just what an advantage an education has been,” he said.

“Now I have the opportunity to give back to the community.”

The SCU Bowen Foundation Scholarship is provided through the Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF), an organisation committed to tackling challenging social and environmental problems in the Northern Rivers of NSW. It was established through the collaborative efforts of Southern Cross University and the generous contributions from Peter and Julie Bowen. The NRCF has assisted dozens of students to pursue study at Southern Cross University.

Three scholarships were awarded this year to support students from diverse backgrounds and circumstances, and help them achieve their academic goals and aspirations.

Peter urged anyone who had the opportunity and means to think about funding a scholarship.

“There is no money better spent than in education and helping someone to achieve that education, regardless of their personal circumstances. It’s really good to give back to something that you’ve benefited from,” he said.

Vice President (Future Students and Outreach) at Southern Cross University Anna-Maree Shaw said that the University would match fund contributions to enable more students to benefit. “Scholarships really make a difference to your education. It’s thanks to our generous community of donors that we can make study more achievable for more people every year.”

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