Rotary supports outstanding USC students

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Rotary supports outstanding USC students

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Published on 30 May 2012

29 May 2012

Three outstanding University of the Sunshine Coast students whose passions range from teaching to politics to science will each receive a $3,500 Rotary scholarship at the annual presentation event on Wednesday 30 May.

Jen Castell, 27, of Woombye; Cate Morriss, 50, of Caboolture; and Corinna Bürgin-Maunder, 25, of Mooloolaba, will receive their scholarships in front of 200 guests at the event at the USC Innovation Centre from 5.30pm-9.30pm.

The guest speaker will be Rhonda Hetzel, a Sunshine Coast resident who has gained national recognition with her “Down to Earth” blog and new book about finding happiness through living a simple life based around the home.

Rhonda will talk about the value of education from a regional perspective.

The combined Rotary clubs of the Sunshine Coast established the scholarships in 2001 to support students progressing from undergraduate to postgraduate studies at USC. The 2012 recipients were nominated by the Deans of USC’s two Faculties and by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Jen Castell is doing a Master of Education after completing her undergraduate Arts and Education degrees at USC.

She is a Canadian-born teacher inspired by her own world travels and study to start researching the value of overseas teaching and learning experiences.

“We have culturally diverse classrooms in the 21st century and there are different challenges and pressures on teachers,” said Jen, who teaches senior students at the Agnew School, Nambour.

“I believe more teachers would benefit from overseas classroom experience. Every culture has methods that inspire.”

Jen, who has taught at a London public school and on a boat in the Caribbean, said the Rotary scholarship would help support her budget for tuition or travel.

Cate Morriss achieved a perfect Grade Point Average (GPA) of 7 and received the Chancellor’s Medal when she graduated from her USC Honours in Politics degree in 2007.

Cate, who now lectures in Peace and Conflict Studies at USC and is working on her Arts doctorate in international relations, said the Rotary scholarship was a wonderful surprise and a huge honour.

Her PhD takes a feminist perspective of regional policy-making processes based on a case study of the Pacific Plan, a 10-year strategy by the Pacific Islands Forum for regional integration and coordination.

“I’ve had many rich experiences meeting and talking to women during my travels across the Pacific for research,” she said.

“This thesis was inspired by my Honours research which explored the political gains of women in the election of the first autonomous government in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.”

Corinna Burgin-Maunder also earned a perfect GPA of 7 in her USC Honours program. The German-born student graduated in 2011 from her Science (Honours) degree and is now studying for her PhD in Science.

Corinna’s doctorate continues her Honours research into how and why fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids are able to improve human health.

“I’m focusing on the cardiovascular system, particularly high blood pressure,” said Corinna, who also teaches at USC. “I’m trying to identify how the fish oils affect the release of substances from the cells that line our blood vessels.”

Her work involves gathering umbilical cords after the consent of birthing mothers at Nambour Hospital so she can extract cells from them at USC’s Science laboratories, and then examine what happens when these cells are supplemented with fish oils.

“I will also travel to Melbourne’s Australian Centre for Blood Diseases to do blood sample work, so the Rotary scholarship will be a great help with my expenses,” she said.

Win Fowles, chairman of the Rotary and University of the Sunshine Coast Community Fund, said the local Rotary clubs were pleased to invest in the future through the annual scholarships for USC students.

— Julie Schomberg

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