The Swinburne GAF Scholars Network was established with the first cohort of GAF Scholars in 2007, and provides an opportunity for its members to support each other, network and share information with a focus on academic opportunities and community service.
The Network is highly valued by GAF Scholars, and consistently receives positive feedback in the Scholars annual reports. Network activities comprise both formal and informal/social components. This is of particular value to incoming GAF Scholars, with existing Scholars helping them with any transitional issues that they may experience adjusting to university life and living away from home.
‘The network of GAF scholars is a highly successful aspect of the program, with the other scholarship recipients able to inform me about opportunities and activities that I can also take part in.’ Gabriella
Swinburne arranges for formal Network meetings during each academic year. Early in Semester 1, a welcome meeting is held to provide the opportunity for incoming GAF Scholars to meet and be welcomed to the Network by the existing Scholars. Three further meetings are held during the year which provide an opportunity for information sharing and interaction with University staff. The meetings include a guest speaker segment on topics of interest to Scholars, such as the University’s leadership program, volunteering, study support services, personal development and careers and employment services.
‘I really appreciated the mentoring and networking opportunities that I was given…. The events provided are one of the best aspects of the scholarship. I loved expanding my social circle with people from different backgrounds whom I may not have met without this scholarship ….‘ Samantha
In addition, GAF Scholars themselves organize team activities to further strengthen the Network. In the past, team-building activities organized by the Scholars have included activities such as Laser Tag, a cinema night and dinners at restaurants local to Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus. These events are well attended by scholars and receive positive feedback.
Volunteering is also an important part of life for Swinburne’s GAF Scholars. Each year there is a group volunteer activity organized for Swinburne Open Day with many of the current GAF scholars promoting the Scholarships to prospective students and their families.
Additional volunteer work is undertaken by all scholars based on their personal interests. One such volunteer activity undertaken by Marli Lopez-Hope resulted in her being the representative for Australia in the international campaign run by Air New Zealand and National Geographic to become the Voice of Antarctica and to travel to Antarctica to document the efforts made by scientists to better understand and promote climate change.
Swinburne’s GAF Scholars report that the encouragement they receive for involvement in volunteer work is beneficial to them personally and professionally.
‘…one of the great success of this scholarship is its ability to create ties between GAF scholars, sparking friendships and allies that last the entirety of our university life. It is also that little push to get us into the world of community involvement and volunteering. It sets the scholars up with those foundation in community work that will last beyond our university years.’ Shannon