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Bill Caldwell Scholarship: Q&A with 2020 Recipient

The Bill Caldwell Scholarship was established in 1998 to honour Bill Caldwell (Fr 1964), who was tragically killed in 1993. The scholarship was created by a group of dedicated friends, led by Tom Yim (Fr 1966) and David Anstice AO (Fr 1966). Now over twenty years on, the scholarship has supported 15 students. We spoke to the most recent recipient, Adele Burke, to find out how the scholarship has helped her this past year.

Adele Burke (Fr 2018) was awarded the Bill Caldwell Scholarship in 2020. During her time at College she was part of the Palladian Dance Team, competed in Oration (and won), was a member of the Rosebowl Swimming Team and in her third year, served as Honorary Secretary. Adele is currently completing her studies in Engineering (Honors) with Mechanical Space Engineering/Bachelor of Science (Mathematics) at The University of Sydney. Below, she reflects on her time at St Andrew’s, and how the scholarship affected her.

What has been your favourite thing about College?

The highlight of my College experience over the past three years has certainly been the opportunity to meet, become such good friends with, and be inspired by, so many different types of people from so many different parts of Australia. I think the people I was surrounded by, certainly made each and every experience so much better.

My favourite experience over my time at College was the opportunity to participate in the Sony Children’s Camps in 2018 and 2019, first, as a companion and second, as Convenor of the camp. Throughout the camp, a team of about 50 students (mostly Drew’s, with a couple of Women’s, Pauls and John’s students) spend 4 days providing 24-hour supervision for 20 campers with mental and physical disability. The joy the campers and the respite the parents get from the Camp made both weeks the best two weeks of my College experience by far. They are very special memories I will hold onto forever!

How has receiving financial support helped you this year?

In 2020 I was juggling quite a few balls, including three very big ones – College (as Honorary Secretary), Uni (as a Mechanical Space Engineering and Maths student who spent a lot of time at the library) and work (as a tutor at Drew’s, and a Student Ambassador at the University). Receiving financial support this year allowed me to gracefully lower the last ball, instead of being forced to drop one at some point throughout the year. And so, in a year where both Uni and College had to be tackled with a bit more energy (in order to manage online lectures and tutorials, and reimagine 50-year-old college events, respectively), I was able to walk away from both really happy with what I achieved. Without receiving financial support this year, I do not think the same could have been said. So, thank you!

How necessary do you think scholarships are to the College?

To the College overall, scholarships are so important in achieving the diversity which I mentioned earlier. I am so grateful to be part of the 2018 Fresher year group, who had a higher percentage of students come from outside the Sydney Metropolitan area than usual – I think that scholarships would have been a significant enabler in achieving this. It allowed our year group to meet new people with unfamiliar experiences, and in turn, we were able to discuss new and unfamiliar ideas.

I was able to expand my, arguably, quite insular worldview, coming from a private girl’s school in The Canberra Bubble. I had discussions and debates with people with very different opinions and backgrounds on a whole range of topics. In one instance, after having a conversation with a student in our year about the benefits of it, I began practicing mindfulness every day. And the same student, who was raised on a cattle farm, became vegetarian after I explained the reasons why I was one myself, and suggested a book for him to read on the topic. These discussions and debates, which were made so much richer due to the diversity in our year group, allowed us to become more well-rounded people over the past three years, and I think that the diversity of our year group came as a result of the generosity of benefactors and the availability of scholarships.

What is your plan for this next year?

This year I will work towards completing my second to last year of University and will move into a share house in Darlinghurst with two of my friends from Drew’s. I will be around Drew’s a little – working as the Senior Academic Tutor for STEM, and also as a 2021 Taylor Scholar.

Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to your benefactors?

Thank you for your generosity, because I think it is donations like yours that really make Drew’s what it is. When I was accepted into Drew’s, I soon realised that there is a culture here of striving to better oneself every day, and this is true whether academics, sports, performing arts or community service is ‘your thing.’

Financial support is the backbone of that culture. It allowed the people who I looked up to when I first came to Drew’s – people who were striving to better themselves, and thus, excelling in ‘their thing’ – to be here. It also allowed me to be here and to see that, and so, encouraged me to achieve in ‘my things’ – academics, leadership, debating and public speaking. When I was recognised for those achievements by being awarded with financial support, it provided me with a nudge to keep on going.

I hope that I was fortunate enough to be a part of continuing that culture, and I know it will stay with me for the rest of my life. I cannot thank you enough for helping me to experience it in the first place.

To hear from one of the benefactors of the Bill Caldwell Scholarship, read our interview with David Anstice (Fr 1966) whose support makes it possible for students like Adele to attend College.

The Advancement Office would like to thank Adele for taking the time to share her story with us.

To read more impact of giving stories click here.