Eight students stand in front of a UOW backdrop at the Westpac Young Scholars event. Photo: Mark Newsham

Eight outstanding UOW students to join Westpac Scholar network

Eight outstanding UOW students to join Westpac Scholar network

Annual scholarships aimed at driving positive change, building global connections

Eight emerging leaders, who are passionate about using their knowledge and skills to drive opportunities for social change, have been announced as the University of Wollongong (UOW) recipients of the 2023 Westpac Trust Scholarships.

Undergraduate students Charlotte Mills, Rhyda Demaagd, Mela Hoffman, Matthew Bond, Lauren Sheppard, Connor Weir, Samantha Exposito, and Rohan Sims were joined by representatives of the Westpac Scholars Trust and members of the UOW community during a ceremony held today (Wednesday 29 March) at Wollongong Campus.

Charlotte, Rhyda, Mela, Matthew, Lauren, Connor, and Samantha were each awarded the Westpac Young Technologist Scholarship, which recognises students who are passionate about technology and using its power for good.  

Rohan was announced as the recipient of the Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship, the first student from UOW to be awarded this scholarship. The scholarship aims to forge genuine cultural experiences and network opportunities between young leaders in Australia and Asia, with Rohan to spend up to two semesters in Asia.   

Westpac Scholars Trust partners with 14 universities across Australia to deliver the annual scholarships, which support 100 undergraduate students each year. The Westpac Scholarships encompass a range of categories, including Future Leaders, Research Fellowships, Social Change, Asian Exchange, and Young Technologists.

Scholars receive $15,000 over three years and become lifelong members of the Westpac 100 Scholars Network (W100), which brings together people from all walks of life and provides access to professional development and inspiring networks.

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Academic and Student Life) Professor Theo Farrell congratulated the students on receiving the prestigious Westpac Scholarships.

“Congratulations to all our Westpac Scholars! This is an amazing opportunity to harness their knowledge, skills, and passion to make an impact. I can’t wait to see what they do next and the path they take as agents of change,” Professor Farrell said.

Westpac Scholars Trust CEO Amy Lyden was impressed with the calibre of scholars awarded this year and said she was delighted to see the next generation of leaders receive the support they need to make a difference in the world.

“Many individuals are already delivering huge impact in our community through their studies, research, and work in the social enterprise sector. I can’t wait to see this group continue to flourish.”

Rohan Simms, Bachelor of Commerce (Finance)/Diploma of Languages (Mandarin), Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship

“My studies together with the international exchange to China will allow me to contribute to the financial sector in a way that enhances international connections between Asia and Australia. It will also allow me to help in developing a more culturally competent, global and interconnected community.

“With this scholarship I am able to develop my understanding of other parts of Asia and connect with many like-minded scholars who share the same goals of fostering a healthy and productive relationship between Australia and Asia.”

Charlotte Mills, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Westpac Young Technologists

“The goals I have for creating innovative solutions that bring us towards a sustainable future are not something I can achieve on my own. Solving our climate crisis requires not only the collaboration of ideas and skill sets but also perseverance in efforts from everyone.

“The sustainable future I wish to work towards requires international collaboration and advanced technology to even be possible."

Lauren Sheppard, Bachelor of Science Advanced (Honours), Westpac Young Technologists

“In my studies, I am passionate about physics, chemistry and mathematics and their applications, in particular in the area of medical research and diagnostic medicine.

“This scholarship will achieve this by enabling opportunities for networking allowing me to gain knowledge and experience in my field of interest.”

Samantha Exposito, Bachelor of Data Science and Analytics, Westpac Young Technologists

“I feel very privileged to be awarded this scholarship as it is such an invaluable lifelong experience. I am very passionate about mathematics and analysing data, and I hope that through the experiences this scholarship provides, I will be able to use analytic skills to benefit the community.” 

Rhyda Demaagd, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of Business, Westpac Young Technologists

“Being part of a team of people who consistently push the limits in their desired field is a truly wonderful gift and inspires me to perform to the highest standard in every area of life.

“I am passionate about solving problems through innovation in a business context. The scholarship will help me achieve this goal by enabling me to connect with people who are also innovators and problem solvers in a range of disciplines.”

Connor Weir, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of Science, Westpac Young Technologists

“Being named a Westpac Scholar comes with a feeling of belonging. It means that other people share my vision of improving lives, preserving the natural world and combating climate change through technology.

I believe that climate change is the biggest issue that current and future generations face, and that the solution to this crisis is now a matter of science, technology and engineering. I also believe that the connections I will form and the incredible people I will meet through the Westpac Young Technologist Scholarship and the W 100 Network will be invaluable in allowing me to play my part, to safeguard and preserve the natural world and humanity for generations to come.” 

Matthew Bond, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Westpac Young Technologists

“One of the things I love about technology is that people in remote areas are less isolated, as well as people with disabilities and other challenges. This means that Australia’s digital landscape is one where all people can benefit. Developments in a range of devices would also enable easier access and communication with hospitals or other health services for those isolated by distance or who are limited in other ways.

“I am passionate and committed to ensuring that I find the best option before utilising a solution. I have ambition and drive to make a positive difference; like the Westpac Scholars Trust’s vision, my future goals are focused on making a better future for all Australians, regardless of background or challenges faced.”

Mela Hoffman, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Westpac Young Technologist

“Despite my uncertainty, my driving motivation regarding my career is to work on developing technologies to achieve net zero carbon emissions, work towards a sustainable future, and help our planet recover from climate change.

“The Westpac 100 Network will be an invaluable asset, allowing me to network and make connections within the engineering industry to advance my career and find people to work with who share the same passion and vision to develop technologies to fight climate change. This network will allow me to find people who will complement my knowledge and challenge me.”