With the help of two scholarships from Curtin University, Ellecha Thorp has travelled from her small hometown in Western Australia’s southwest to study in cosmopolitan Perth, and she plans to continue her journey north to a career in WA’s rugged outback.
While ambitious, Thorp’s path hasn’t been as straightforward as that of most school-leavers, but, thanks to two university scholarships, her dream career is in sight.
Her first challenge was a fundamental one – the requirement to leave her family and home in a small-town community in southern WA, to study her chosen course – the four-year Bachelor of Social Work at Curtin University in Perth.
“I’m very close to my family so I struggled moving away from home. And not only do you have to leave your family, you also need to find a job quickly and adjust to living full-time in a big city.”
Secondly, coming from a single-parent household, Thorp was worried about the impact of her relocation costs.
Discovering that there were a range of scholarships available to Curtin students, and with nothing to lose, she applied for the Harry Perkins Memorial Scholarship, which provides recipients from rural and low SES backgrounds support for their living costs.
“I was adjusting to moving away from my family, studying at university and being independent. Finance was an additional stress to all that,” she explains.
“When I learned I’d been awarded the scholarship, it was like a weight off my shoulders. And knowing there’d be a consistent payment every semester was very reassuring.”
The scholarship was a blessing for Thorp almost immediately.
“In my first semester my laptop broke, but the scholarship funds allowed me to quickly buy a new one and continue to study.”
And continue she did. Her first-year grades were so high that she was awarded a second scholarship as a reward for her high grades.
Together, the two scholarships have enabled Thorp to participate in work experience programs in WA and abroad.
“Every opportunity you take opens doors. I had the opportunity to do field work in Broome and I felt very at home there.
“There is something magical about red dirt and different communities. I have a special spot in my heart for rural Australia and know these communities are in need of ongoing support.”
She’s now looking forward to working with individuals and communities in rural and remote WA, and she encourages others to follow her lead and apply for a scholarship.
“Curtin has a fantastic scholarships program. People might not realise the range of scholarships available. The application takes a bit of effort, but the benefits are life-changing.”