Over $1.6 million in grants in FY18–19, a new scholarship program, and a scholarship and alumni event at Murdoch University.
As 2019 draws to a close, it’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on and celebrate all The George Alexander Foundation community has accomplished.
In the past financial year, over $1.6 million was distributed to our Scholarship and Fellowship Program partner institutions.
Throughout the academic year, we have welcomed 84 scholars, 6 fellows and 30 Earthwatch Student Challengers into our community. We have also gained a new GAF team member, Communications Officer Nina Beer, who joined us in January.
In the 2019 academic year, the GAF team visited our partners in six states allowing us to meet our commencing scholars and reconnect with continuing scholars. We look forward to these visits and are delighted to hear how our scholars continue to contribute to their communities while developing their leadership skills and applying themselves to their studies. Throughout each visit, our scholars have displayed the Foundation’s guiding principles of excellence, leadership, community involvement and sustainability, truly embodying our shared mission to contribute to the Australian community.
Early in 2019, we visited Murdoch University in Perth, where we co-hosted a scholarship ceremony. Themed 'Embracing Uncertainty and Taking Risks', current GAF scholars had the chance to hear from Elise Bowen, a Murdoch University and GAF alumna who is a celebrated young leader in her field for her pioneering work in sheep data management. Elise reflected on her journey since graduation: on overcoming mental health issues, on the importance of mentoring to personal and professional growth, and of not being afraid of embracing change. Elise encouraged scholars to seek new opportunities, no matter how daunting. It was a fantastic event that brought GAF scholars and alumni together as a community, and we anticipate hosting events of a similar nature in future years.
In August, the team visited the Australian Catholic University (ACU) North Sydney and Strathfield campuses, where a new scholarship program commenced mid-year. The ACU NSW program will see five scholarships, each valued at $22,500 over three years, awarded annually to students who have relocated to commence their studies. The first cohort of ACU NSW scholars shared with us their aim to contribute to the community through paramedicine, physiotherapy, social work and early childhood education, and we wish them all the best in their ambition for the future.
Each year we are amazed by the diverse range of career trajectories our GAF scholars embark upon. From an Art Crime fellowship to a Bachelor of Zoology, our GAF fellows and scholars are developing much-needed skills for the Australian community and becoming leaders in their fields. We were also thrilled to see how far and wide our international GAF community now traverses.
At an RMIT GAF alumni event in September, this was illustrated through a map showcasing the diversity of locations in which alumni who were unable to attend now reside. From South Korea and China to the US and Europe, it is clear that our 630 strong alumni cohort is not only giving back to the Australian community but making its mark across the world.
There are now nearly 1000 GAF scholars, fellows and alumni, and our cohort continues to grow each year. It’s significant that The George Alexander Foundation, which began with a $30,000 investment from its founder, has supported so many young people passionate about their respective fields who bring that passion with them wherever they go. It was George Alexander’s dream that GAF alumni become a growing community of dedicated professionals that see the value in contributing to our society. We know he would be proud of how far his alumni have gone both geographically and professionally.
As the academic year closes, we have considered how best to further support our GAF community in fulfilling their potential and are excited to share plans for a Future Leaders Seminar which will be held in Melbourne in February 2020. This seminar will help our scholars, fellows and alumni to gain a new understanding of their personal leadership styles and develop a professional toolkit to grow their careers during and beyond tertiary studies. In consideration of our Australia-wide and international community, the seminar will be recorded and shared online after the event for all to experience.
We would like to take the chance to thank our Foundation staff for the enthusiasm and passion they bring to overseeing the Foundation’s work.
As 2020 approaches, we look forward to hearing about the new endeavours our community will undertake in the future year, wherever they may be, and encourage them to stay in touch.
Charles Goode AC