Published on 11 April 2013
Three Civil Engineering students at the University of the Sunshine Coast have been awarded new Queensland Government scholarships aimed at boosting the number of women in traditionally male-dominated industries.
Sarah Norman of Morayfield, Leesa Partridge of Nambour and Nikeeta Roche of Bli Bli have been named in Skills Queensland’s first round of Supporting Women Scholarships, each worth $5,000 a year for the length of the qualification.
The scholarships were offered to 141 women from almost 400 applicants across the state. They went to 27 women looking to change careers, 25 women returning to study and 89 school-leavers.
Sarah, who gained an OP3 at Morayfield State High School last year and is the first person in her family to attend university, said she felt lucky and relieved to receive the scholarship.
“Now I can reduce the amount I work to focus on uni as a job five days a week,” said the 18-year-old, who also recently received a $6,000 USC Vice-Chancellor’s Merit Scholarship.
“My dad works in construction so I’ve always been around worksites and found it interesting. When I did senior and realised I’m really good at maths and capable of achieving to a high level in that field, I decided civil engineering would be a great job.”
Sarah chose USC because of the environment and location close to home.
“The first time I went up there it was awesome, everyone was so friendly and helpful,” she said.
Leesa, who works for the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Project Planning, said the scholarship would offset the expenses of tertiary education.
A senior designer (civil) based at the Sunshine Coast office, she chose to study Engineering at USC to expand her skills and add value as an employee.
“My previous studies were external so I wanted the interaction with lecturers and other students while doing third and fourth year subjects,” she said.
Nikeeta, 23, who graduated from St John’s College at Nambour in 2007, said she initially studied design and architecture in Brisbane but sought a change.
“I chose Civil Engineering at USC because I am passionate about the construction industry and the development of materials,” she said.
“I really want to contribute to the industry and have never felt that being a woman has limited me in any respect. USC is a beautiful campus and has grown significantly in its learning facilities while still maintaining relaxed, intimate classes.
“Receiving the scholarship means so much. Not only is it recognising the role women can play in this industry, but I feel the support to really push the limits.”
— Julie Schomberg