Dr Rustum Sethna and his wife Helen have spent their lives promoting health around the world. Recently they furthered that mission through a $5,000 gift to USC’s new psychology program.
Dr Sethna, originally from India, was educated in the United States as a prestigious Fulbright scholar. He later served over 25 years as a psychology professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, where he met his wife Helen, a health care professional originally from New Zealand. The two continued their successful international careers together, and recently settled on the Sunshine Coast.
When the Sethnas learned of the new psychology program starting up this year at USC, they asked how they could be involved to support it. It was their first gift to USC, and the first gift received by the psychology program.
Professor Mary Katsikitis, Head of the psychology program at USC, said “this gift means a great deal. The display of community support is very encouraging, and helps in the practical needs of a start-up program."
Dr Sethna is passionate about the importance of practical psychology. “What’s important for students is not just the clinical knowledge, but also common sense and ‘street smarts’. We all need to understand human behavior in every day life. “I am hopeful that this program will assist with practical awareness for life learning. We will all benefit if we can learn to be more tolerant individuals."
The Psychology Program will benefit from new clinical facilities to be housed in USC’s new Health and Sport Centre.
David and Val Simons of Coolum are a special type of angel investor. They recently donated $15,000 to the Enterprisers program at USC’s Innovation Centre, betting on the potential of USC and the students who participated last spring.
University students from across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom took part in the four-day Enterprisers program, developed by the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to empower young entrepreneurs. Key academics from those institutions flew into the Sunshine Coast to lead the program.
Colin Graham, CEO of USC’s Innovation Centre, said “for many students, this will be the single biggest thing impacting on them in a five-year period.”
The Simons understand the power of opportunity, having spent over three decades in university environments around the world through their work and study. David served as a leading horticultural academic in Australia, Europe and the USA.
Both of the Simons are excited about the potential of programs like Enterprisers. “At universities overseas, philanthropy is well established—I have seen the enormous advantage this brings to outstanding students who are prepared to accept real challenges,” David said. “Undergraduate university students are full of ideas and enthusiasm.”
After 12 years on the Sunshine Coast, Val and David have found their permanent home—which they feel is greatly enriched with a university campus. “Having USC on the Sunshine Coast as part of our community is very special,” Val said. “Giving to USC gives me the opportunity to see the difference my money can make right here and now. I hope others will do the same.”