Scholarships can change lives. The financial assistance they provide often enables students to undertake further education opportunities that may have otherwise been hard for them to access.
We spoke to Sara Salmeron, La Trobe University student and recipient of the Radford Foundation Second Chance Scholarship, about the application process and how it helped her as a first-year undergraduate student.
Finding the right scholarship
‘I was reading through La Trobe’s website and came across scholarship opportunities. La Trobe’s scholarships page then allowed me to filter and narrow all scholarships down to what best matched my circumstances,’ explains Salmeron.
The Radford Foundation Second Chance Scholarship came up. Not only did its description fill me with hope, but it also resonated strongly with me.’
La Trobe University offers a range of scholarships to students. Their criteria span service to the community, significant caring responsibilities, education or financial disadvantage, personal hardship, high academic achievement, leadership qualities, first in family, sporting ability and refugee background, among others.
Salmeron’s scholarship was created by the Radford Foundation and Deb Radford to support people who’ve been unable to undertake study due to financial hardship. Offered to two La Trobe undergraduate students each year, it provides recipients with $7,500 per annum towards their study in any discipline.
When asked what compelled her to apply, Salmeron says she ‘was encouraged by La Trobe University’s well-known culture of supporting and encouraging its students to strive for growth, development and success’.
The application process
While the idea of applying for scholarships can initially seem daunting, exploring the scholarship options available to you and researching their requirements can help you feel better prepared.
To put together a successful scholarship application, you should:
- Apply early – this will give you time to put together a strong, well-constructed application.
- Learn as much as you can about the background of the scholarship to understand your suitability as an applicant.
- Answer all the application questions in full.
- Use formal language.
- Outline the nature of your personal circumstances and how they align to the scholarship/s you’re applying for.
- Proofread your application and ensure that all the required supporting documentation is included.
- Write a detailed and thoughtful personal statement, keeping in mind the question and intention of the scholarship. Scholarships are highly competitive and your statement is your chance to share your personal story and aspirations.
Salmeron says she found the application process for the Radford Foundation Second Chance Scholarship clear and straightforward.
I felt extremely comfortable opening up about my personal circumstances, career goals and aspirations, and was confident that all the information I provided was in safe hands,’ she explains.
‘The application was very transparent and straightforward, and any questions or concerns I had were promptly resolved.’
All scholarship applications are completely confidential, meaning your privacy is respected and protected.
How scholarships help students
Salmeron says she was ecstatic when she learned she was a recipient of the scholarship.
‘For a minute, I had to go over the email again to make sure that I hadn’t misread it. I was at work when I received the email, and literally jumped up and down in the back storage room! I couldn’t contain my gratitude and excitement.’
The scholarship’s financial support enabled her to reshape her life to better pursue her university studies.
‘I’ve been able to cut back on my work hours and dedicate more time to studying, completing my assessment tasks and, most importantly, exam preparation.’
‘A great weight has been lifted off my shoulders thanks to the Radford Foundation Second Chance Scholarship,’ Salmeron says. ‘As its name suggests, this scholarship has truly granted me a second chance at achieving my goals and working to my full potential.’
Changing the futures of students
Currently a second-year health sciences student, Salmeron is set to graduate from her undergraduate degree next year. However, she loves studying and hopes to continue her education at La Trobe by pursuing a Master of Physiotherapy Practice.
Scholarships, as Salmeron’s story highlights, can be the missing piece if you need a financial helping hand to gain a formal university qualification. Scholarships can grant you the time and space – without the financial pressures of supporting yourself full-time – to enhance your skills, further your education, and increase your career opportunities.
Salmeron is quick to encourage anyone who is considering applying for a scholarship to put aside any hesitations and just go for it.
‘Don’t be afraid to step forward and apply. You’ve got nothing to lose. We belong to a wonderful university that – in one way or another – is full of invaluable opportunities and support channels,’ says Salmeron.
She ends with one final piece of advice: ‘Last but not least, be fearless in the pursuit of your dreams and aspirations!’
Take a look at the scholarships on offer at La Trobe, so you can hit the ground running when you start your new education.