Published on 28 February 2013
A 20-year-old University of the Sunshine Coast Science student has been selected for a Defence University Sponsorship that will guarantee him the career of his choice on an annual salary of about $70,000 after graduation.
Matthew La Macchia, of Mooloolaba, will become an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) with the Australian Army when he completes his USC Bachelor of Environmental Health Science, likely in mid-2014.
The Matthew Flinders Anglican College graduate received his official Australian Defence Force (ADF) appointment to Lieutenant and the sponsorship at a ceremony in Brisbane this month.
Defence University Sponsorships are available to university students in accredited engineering and health degrees across Australia.
USC’s Environmental Health Science degree was recently accredited, enabling Matthew to compete against his peers across Queensland and become the first recipient from USC.
“I’m excited because this is perfect for me,” Matthew said. “It combines my interest in environmental health with a guaranteed job in the Army, as well as providing financial security in my final years of studying.
“When I was growing up, I thought it would be a great honour to serve in the Army. Then I decided to take advantage of my OP score and go to uni for an education. Now I realise I can do both.”
The sponsorship gives Matthew an immediate starting salary of $39,000 a year and 18% superannuation while studying at USC’s Sippy Downs campus, in addition to benefits such as paid student fees, textbook allowance, subsidised accommodation and free health care.
When he graduates he will attend military training at Duntroon for his officer position and work for at least three years in the ADF.
Matthew recently returned from visiting family in Bundaberg after the flooding and was pleased to realise that his future role as an Army Environmental Health Officer would involve helping such communities in natural disasters.
“I want to protect people’s health and use my skills gained through University education,” he said.
EHOs in the Army are responsible for the planning, coordination and development of workplace health strategies. They provide advice and services in both a barracks and field/operational environment in areas such as human resources and water supplies.
Matthew said he had enjoyed staying on the Sunshine Coast to study at USC, as well as the breadth of the USC degree.
“It’s educating me on so many aspects of public health and how the environment is connected to people in so many ways,” he said.
— Julie Schomberg