26 February 2019
An impressive sporting and academic track record has won a far north Queensland school leaver a prestigious Tim Fairfax Regional Scholarship to study at USC.
Born and raised in the small town of Malanda, Keeley Coutts recently started her first year of Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology after graduating with an OP 4 from Malanda State High School at the end of last year.
Keeley is one of two USC students to receive the Tim Fairfax Regional Scholarship that is worth up to $20,000 and specifically supports high-achieving students who leave their regional or remote home town to attend university.
“I always knew that, to pursue my running career, I would have to study down south where there is better access to sporting facilities, but I’d never considered USC until I was on the Sunshine Coast for the Queensland Cross Country competition last year,” Keeley said.
“I looked into USC further and was really impressed with the quality of both the study and sporting opportunities and felt like I’d found what I’d been looking for in a university.
“Living in Malanda meant having to do a three-hour round trip to Cairns a few times a week for track training, so having a world-class running track just metres away from where I’m going to be attending lectures is a really big deal for me.”
The aspiring 800m and 1500m distance runner said finding out that she’d won the Tim Fairfax scholarship, equal to $5,000 per year of undergraduate study, was a huge relief to her family.
“It’s always been a juggle to support my studies and my sporting aspirations and that all comes with a lot of financial pressures,” Keeley said.
“My family was just so relieved when I won the scholarship because it means that I can continue to do what I love, concentrate on my studies and not have the extra burden of having to hold down a part-time job.”
Keeley is also a recipient of a USC SportSmart scholarship that supports students combining first year university study with high-performance sport commitments. She has also been accepted in to USC’s High Performance Student Athlete Program.
“It was during the process of applying for those programs that a USC staff member reached out and told me that I was also a good candidate for the Tim Fairfax funding and encouraged me to apply,” Keeley said.
“I’m so incredibly grateful for that tip because otherwise I would not have known about it.”
Keeley said she was grateful for the scholarship, and thanked the donor, her teachers, her coach Jill Boltz and her parents.