James Hicks with fellow Swinburne GAF Scholars


Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) & Bachelor of Business (Management)
Swinburne University

What challenges did the transition to tertiary education present for you?

Moving away from home and building a strong social network was one of the first challenges, which then merged with the need to form new networks, build my life in a new community and integrate into the world of tertiary education. All this combined with the need to finance everyday living while studying, created a multiplicity of challenges at first.

How did the GAF scholarships help address these challenges?

As well as obvious financial assistance, the GAF connection created an instant network of friends with similar interests and goals. This has been vital in the process of integrating into the tertiary setting. For me and the other GAF scholars, the financial assistance has allowed us to work less, so spend more time studying and being involved in our communities.

Has the scholarship brought other benefits? Any benefits you did not really expect of anticipate?

One key benefit has been the opportunity to develop leadership skills through various activities that our GAF network has been involved in. The emphasis on community involvement has led to us all volunteering with Conservation Volunteers Australia and encourages us to become involved in other charitable causes.

The scholarship has led to me personally being recognised by other people who would have never known me if it weren't for my involvement with The George Alexander Foundation. This has led to other opportunities such as the Order of Australia Foundation Scholarship.

Potential employers have been very interested in my involvement with The George Alexander Foundation Scholarship.

We have been able to form such a supportive and tight-knit network of GAF scholarship recipients  at Swinburne and regularly have social meetings just to catch up and spend time together.

Has you community involvement changes since you received your GAF scholarship?

The GAF Scholarship has led to my involvement in the community in ways I hadn't been before, for example working with Conservation Volunteers Australia.

With the pressure of heavy study commitments and work commitments, many university students are forced to reduce their involvement in their community. The financial assistance from the Foundation has allowed me to achieve a much better balance of study/work and community involvement than most other students are able to.

 Interviewed 2009

Donate The scholars and fellows supported through the GAF-funded programs are committed to their studies, to giving back to the community and to doing their utmost to uphold the investment that has been made in them. If you would like to invest in the education of some talented and dedicated young Australians, please make a tax-deductible donation online by clicking on Donate or contact us on 03 9650 3188 for other options.
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