UOW student Luke Bradbery, wearing a black shirt and blue shorts, sits with the Wollongong campus in the background. Photo: Adam Mansfield

How a community-funded scholarship transformed student’s future

How a community-funded scholarship transformed student’s future

UOW scholarship enabled Luke Bradbery to take on double degree after tough adolescence

Luke Bradbery has a message for those who have contributed to the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Transforming Futures Scholarship Fund.

“You are truly amazing people that inspire the next generation. Your donations are more than just money, they provide hope, inspiration and support to those in need to fulfil their goals and purpose.”

As a second-year student undertaking a double degree Bachelor of Psychological Science and Bachelor of Neuroscience, Luke is aware of how a scholarship can change a life. Hailing from Tamworth, in central west New South Wales, he never thought that university was within his reach.

While Luke was in high school, his mother had early-onset frontotemporal dementia and was placed in a care home. This triggered Luke’s own mental health issues. His father worked hard, on a single income, to provide for Luke and his sister, but the situation was immensely stressful for all.

Despite his family hardship, or indeed because of it, Luke was determined to achieve good marks in his HSC and attend university, but at many times, he could not see a way forward, both financially and personally. There were just so many obstacles, including a pandemic. But he was determined and whip-smart; he knew his purpose lay in helping others.

“Watching my mother slowly warp due to her dementia, and the subsequent mental health issues experienced by her and those around her, inspired me to chase a career in helping those in similar situations,” Luke said.

“I want to further the field of neuroscience, particularly the cause and possible preventative treatments for dementia.”

The Transforming Futures Scholarship was central to Luke achieving his dreams and has given him hope for the future. Without it, he wasn’t sure if access to higher education was attainable. 

“When I was told that I had obtained this scholarship, I was shocked and ecstatic, as I had feared I wouldn’t be able to attend university for as long as I wished due to my lack of funds and situation. I also had a lot of anxiety and stress due to my home situation,” Luke said.

“The scholarship has inspired me to fulfil my goals of helping others and researching the brain by supplying me with the hope needed and lowering my emotional turmoil.”

UOW student Luke Bradbery, wearing a black shirt and blue shorts, sits with the Wollongong campus in the background. Photo: Adam Mansfield

UOW’s Transforming Future Scholarships are awarded to students who have demonstrated need, such as financial hardship and social disadvantage.

Fully funded by alumni and community donations, the Transforming Future Scholarship is aimed at students who might not otherwise be able to attend university and enables students from all backgrounds to experience an outstanding learning environment.

Currently, UOW’s domestic undergraduate student cohort comprises close to 19 per cent of students from a low-socioeconomic background, with 30 per cent from a regional or remote area.

Professor Patricia M. Davidson, UOW Vice-Chancellor and President, said scholarships make an extraordinary difference in the lives of recipients.

“We introduced the Transforming Futures Scholarship because we realised that many outstanding young people were missing out on the opportunity to come to university because of circumstances beyond their control. They simply can’t afford it and often deal with complex family situations or come from low-socioeconomic backgrounds where university just wasn’t considered an option,” Professor Davidson said.

“Every single one of these brilliant young people has so much talent, so much determination and so much to offer our society. This is our next generation of thinkers, problem solvers, scientists, teachers, nurses, and artists.

“We really encourage all our alumni and our community members to donate to the Transforming Futures Scholarship Fund. This act of kindness and generosity creates a ripple effect that has a positive impact on both the individual and society as a whole.”

As the beneficiary of a scholarship, Luke hopes to pay it forward once he finishes his studies. He thanks all those who have donated and encourages members of the community to contribute to the Transforming Futures Scholarship Fund, to change the life of future UOW students.

“I hope to be as kind and considerate as our donors when I graduate,” he said. “And I will aspire to do the same in providing support for the next generation.”

For more information or to donate to the Transforming Futures Scholarship Fund, visit: https://www.uow.edu.au/giving/donate-now/transforming-futures-scholarship-fund/