Forster girl and ex-Great Lakes College pupil Jessica Hall was recently awarded one of four national scholarships for students from a regional area undertaking STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) studies at university.
Entitled the Audi Foundation-Country Education Foundation national scholarship, the grant will alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with Jessica living in Melbourne and allow her to concentrate more fully on her studies.
"It really inspires you to want to do your absolute best because they're not choosing that many people," she said.
"It gives you peace of mind to focus on your studies."
Country Education Foundation spokesperson Ashlea Pritchard said the four recipients were all noted for their capacity to make a difference in the area of STEM.
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Jessica, a first year Bachelor of Science (Bioengineering Systems) student at Melbourne University, said she had been loving the experience of living and studying in the city, and with the financial pressure of being a full-time student now somewhat relieved, she planned to dive headlong into her future.
She intends to finish her three-year degree before undertaking a Masters of Biomedical Engineering and then launching into a career in the field, where she could work on anything from prosthetic technology to stem cell research.
She said she always knew she wanted to be a scientist, but it wasn't until she looked into the career options available to her that she found her calling.
I enjoy the uni way of life. I'm a lot more outgoing now - I've found a good balance between my social life and my studies.Jessica Hall
Already the opportunities are opening up to her, with the 18-year-old due to feature in an upcoming issue of InStyle magazine as a part of the Audi Foundation #DriveProgress movement to champion women and challenge convention.
The issue comes out on May 16 and saw Jessica flown to Sydney recently to take part in a photo shoot.
And she's got a message for any regional kids like herself thinking about pursuing a future beyond their home town.
"Try to get out and follow your dreams," she said.
"Get the best ATAR you can, or do the best you can, because there are so many amazing opportunities out there."
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