Donor-funded scholarships transform lives. Kate’s dream of becoming an engineer depended on it.
While building stick bridges over a creek in her backyard as a child, Kate Heliotis realised a career in engineering would be perfect for her. However, a difficult and sometimes violent home life almost destroyed this aspiration.
Having since graduated from UQ and secured her ‘-dream job-’ in structural engineering, she remembers when the belief and support of others – including school teachers, a pastor, UQ mentors, and donors – were offered when she needed them most.
“As a teenager there were very dark days, and even my teachers were concerned about my home life,” Ms Heliotis remembered
“I was conditioned to believe I wasn’t smart enough to succeed, and that education and my personal dreams just did not matter.”
The torment of a difficult home life and a strong sense of moral obligation to family duty were barriers to finding self-worth and believing she could ever be happy.
“When I received my letter of offer to study engineering at UQ, I was blown away, but I still had a huge fear of failing."
Ms Heliotis credits a second year scholarship, funded by a UQ donor, with changing her life – encouraging self-belief and providing financial support to focus on study, research and, volunteering, and to participate in study tours.
“In my first semester I managed to achieve a Dean’s Commendation for Academic Excellence and was instilled with this new energy and focus. I was proud of what I could achieve on my own,” she said.
“Knowing that donor support was there motivated me to excel at my studies. Being considered for a scholarship offered countless opportunities, and now as a graduate I mentor students and want to give back to those who, like me, don’t know their potential and what they can achieve.
“Donors have the opportunity to make a huge difference in students’ lives. We might be one step away from discovering the next big thing and that comes from partnering together and supporting students to succeed.”