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Getting to know our 2024 Senior Scholars and their Projects

The Senior Scholars program at St Andrew’s College, formerly known as the Taylor Scholarship program, is a prestigious initiative designed to support and encourage senior students to remain in residence while actively contributing to College life. This program not only provides financial assistance but also fosters personal and academic growth through various mentoring opportunities and project initiatives.

To gain deeper insights into their contributions and experiences, we interviewed our Senior Scholars, asking about the inspirations behind their projects, how these projects enhance the diversity and depth of the College experience, the impact of mentoring on their personal development, and how the scholarship has alleviated financial pressures amidst the cost-of-living crisis. Each scholar has found unique ways to give back to the College, enriching the community in their final years here.

Ashley Hanna (Fr 2022) “Government Schools Connect”

Ashley is currently studying Aerospace Engineering and Physics at the University of Sydney. She attended a government high school in the Northern Beaches of Sydney and is now in her third year at College. Her project involves working with St Andrew’s marketing and communications team to enhance outreach efforts to government, regional, and rural high school students. This initiative was inspired by her own experience of coming to Drew’s from a government high school, where she noticed a significant lack of awareness about College life among students like herself. Ashley believes that increasing the diversity of backgrounds and experiences in the student cohorts will enrich the living, studying, and social environment at the College.

Through attending Tertiary & Career Expos and speaking with Career Advisers, Ashley has been able to connect with and share her College experience with students from similar backgrounds.

Reflecting on the impact of her scholarship, Ashley highlighted that the financial assistance has been crucial during the cost-of-living crisis. It has allowed her to remain at College and focus on her studies, which require her to be on campus five days a week, instead of moving back home.

Ashley also emphasised the importance of the mentoring aspect of the scholarship, where a staff member has guided her in integrating her initiatives into the College’s existing outreach framework. Utilising the College’s resources and contacts has helped make her project more comprehensive and complementary to the staff’s ongoing efforts. This partnership has ensured that her work not only contributes to the College this year but also lays the groundwork for continued improvement in outreach to students from government, regional, and rural high schools, encouraging them to apply and come to St Andrew’s.

Sam Aubin (Fr 2021) “Androvation + Start-up Accelerator short course”

Sam is studying a Bachelor of Commerce & Advanced Studies at the University of Sydney majoring in Finance and Computer Science. Originally from Minnamurra, Sam moved to College as a fresher in 2021 to attend uni. While Sam no longer resides at College, he is still heavily involved here through the Senior Scholar program.

Androvation has been a long-running program at St Andrew’s. It is a pre-accelerator start-up program and roadmap to entrepreneurial success where students get to practice pitching to a team of judges who will award prize money to the most accomplished proposal. With Sam having been a participant last year, he noted being impressed with the high calibre of speakers and overall initiative. Now called “Androvation and Start-up Accelerator short course”, it was traditionally run as a weekend, however this year it was extended into 6 fortnightly talks with a weekend finale. Not only did this provide Androvians with an extra 12 weeks to assemble and validate their business ideas, but it was also much easier to find availability with the exceptional speakers who participated in the program. Overall, these changes made by Sam were beneficial in providing participants with the time and financial resources to take their concepts to the next level.

Androvation allows students to hear from people making important change in the world through entrepreneurial pursuits. Sam reflects that while the pitch and pre-seed funding were competitive, the program was open to all throughout College. In many cases, the talks were attended by participants who did not have any interest in entrepreneurialism, but rather had a connection to the topic or speaker of the night and came out of curiosity. Sam’s favourite talk was from Bree Kirkham (Fr 2008), an inspirational College alumna with extensive experience in VC. Her current role is at F5 Collective, a venture capital firm specialising in investing in extraordinary women-led start-ups. She discussed the current gender inequities within Australian start-up funding and the work needed to bridge the divide. 

Reflecting on his experience, Sam said “While this year’s Androvation may be a small way to give back, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to attend St Andrew’s.” Witnessing firsthand the progression of ideas from their earliest stages to the final pitch was an incredibly rewarding experience. Sam hopes Androvation continues to be an initiative that continues to be adopted and improved upon as it was an important part of his time at Andrew’s.

Marcus Peters (Fr 2020 ) “Drew’s Bot + Coding/AI short course”

Marcus is in his final year studying a Bachelor of Economics and Advanced Studies, majoring in Financial Economics and Software Development at the University of Sydney. Marcus describes how the idea for his project came about, “Several years before I arrived at Drew’s there was a concept called “Standroid” which assisted students in retrieving the Dining Hall menu. Since Standroid was no longer functional and sounded like something I would use regularly, I wanted to re-imagine it using the knowledge I had gained from my university degree. I knew such an app was possible to make, but I knew I had a lot to learn and many hurdles to overcome to get the app up and running”.

Noting the guidance he wished he had had in the process of creating “Drews Bot”, the goal of Marcus’ senior scholar project was to create an opportunity for students interested in computer science and software engineering to explore their passions further. Marcus stated that helping foster discussions around computer science and opening students’ eyes to the vast opportunities in the tech world was something important that Drew’s lacked, and that this initiative can provide.

Destiny Batman Peris (Fr 2021) “Drew’s Indigenous Round Merchandise”

Destiny, a proud Gidja, Yawuru, and Bunitj woman from Darwin, is pursuing a Nursing degree at Notre Dame University. Her Senior Scholar project focuses on the introduction of an Indigenous Sporting Round and associated merchandise, with the aim of celebrating First Nations cultures and ensure a culturally safe environment at College. Inspired by the AFL and other national sporting bodies that have Indigenous rounds with specific jerseys, Destiny saw an opportunity for the College to do more in promoting First Nations cultures through artwork. She believed that creating a visual representation would highlight the College’s diverse and inclusive environment. Having done a similar project at Ascham and being on the RAP Board at Hockey Australia, Destiny played a key role in developing Indigenous playing uniforms. Destiny initially considered creating the artwork herself but collaborated with artist-in-residence and proud Wiradjuri woman Lua Pellegrini, due to her extensive experience.

St Andrew’s inaugural Indigenous Round took place in the fortnight preceding National Reconciliation Week (NRW). Destiny’s excitement about representing her culture while playing hockey was palpable as she shared, “It felt incredibly empowering to play in our first inaugural Indigenous Round. It was a moment of pride and unity.”

Alongside her university studies, Destiny completed a Certificate III in Mentoring Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples at EORA TAFE and has mentored First Nations girls at Kambala since 2020. These experiences reinforced her belief in the strong connection between cultural safety and visibility. For Destiny, having mentors and visible representation of First Nations cultures is crucial. She explained that seeing non-Indigenous peers wear Indigenous artwork signifies respect and celebration of shared histories, creating a culturally safe environment for Indigenous students and the wider community.

The mentoring aspect of the scholarship had a significant impact on Destiny. With the support of Tessa Bruin, the Student Life Manager, Destiny stayed on track with her project timeline and received valuable guidance and resources.

Destiny’s scholarship also provided crucial financial support, allowing her to focus on her studies and passion project without the burden of additional work. As she approached her final year of full-time study, the scholarship also enabled her to complete unpaid placements required for her degree.

Rosie Charge (Fr 2021) “Power Pilates”

Rosie is a postgraduate medicine student with a deep passion for women’s health and wellbeing. Her initiative, ‘Power-Pose’, is a bi-weekly Pilates class designed to support women’s health and foster a sense of community at College. The project was inspired by Rosie’s interest in wellbeing and the historical lack of research centred on women’s health. Rosie saw an opportunity to create a platform that not only promotes physical health but also facilitates meaningful conversations. This initiative provides a safe and engaging space for students to benefit from physical activity and build connections across different year groups. Rosie plans to continue the initiative next semester, including professional development sessions from women in leadership.

Through ‘Power-Pose’, Rosie’s project enhances the College experience by diversifying the types of physical activities offered. Pilates, with its focus on mindfulness and body proprioception, has been shown to improve mental clarity and emotional regulation. The discussions following the sessions cover vital topics such as reproductive health, maintaining balance in College life, and study techniques. Guest experts, like Katie Plume from ‘Safe & Sexy,’ have enriched these conversations with their expertise. By encouraging inter-year communication, the project allows students from different cohorts to connect, share experiences, and support each other. This interaction diversifies the student experience and deepens their understanding of women’s health and wellbeing, broadening the educational landscape of the College.

This role has allowed Rosie to connect with students on a deeper level, understanding their needs and perspectives, and providing guidance based on her own experiences and expertise. Leading the project has also honed her organisational, communication, and leadership skills. She has guided discussions, organised sessions, and ensured that each event is both informative and supportive for all participants.

The scholarship has been a tremendous help for Rosie, especially during the cost-of-living crisis. It has alleviated financial pressures, allowing her to fully focus on her studies, and enabling her to stay at College and pursue full-time postgraduate medicine.

Rosie looks forward to continuing to foster a supportive, healthy, and inclusive environment at St Andrew’s.

Elliot Earnshaw (Fr 2020) and Alex Malouf (Fr 2021) “We Need To Talk”

Elliot and Alex have continued the impactful “We Need to Talk” (WNTT) initiative, which has been running for five years. Elliot first encountered WNTT as a fresher and was deeply impressed by the valuable, informative, and enjoyable conversations. This year’s WNTT project is a continuation of the successful model established in previous years, aiming to foster meaningful discussions within the College community.

One of the primary goals of “We Need to Talk” is to break down the bubbles that students might find themselves in, whether due to their academic disciplines, sports teams, social groups, or political ideologies. The project encourages in-depth conversations with peers who might hold different viewpoints, promoting a culture of open-mindedness and mutual understanding. By engaging in these dialogues, students can appreciate diverse perspectives and may even find their own views evolving. Additionally, WNTT provides a platform for discussing broader societal issues that students might not typically consider, nurturing curiosity and inspiration through peer-led discussions.

Elliot expressed great satisfaction in running the project this year, having previously benefited from participating in WNTT as a younger resident. Facilitating these conversations has allowed him to give back to the College community, and he feels privileged to witness the intelligence, reasoning, and creativity of the students involved. The project has enriched his college experience and reinforced the value of fostering intellectual engagement and community spirit at Drew’s.