BPW Scholarship Winners Announced At Annual Dinner

BPW member Megan George, scholarship winner Demi Spencer-Hirt and guest speaker Professor Kirsten Benkendorf. Photo: supplied.


SUCCESS rarely comes easily, and women often face more than their fair share of challenges.

Business and Professional Women (BPW) recognises this, and recently, the Coffs Harbour branch presented two awards at its annual scholarship dinner held at 63 First Avenue, in Sawtell.

BPW members were joined by women from the wider Coffs Harbour community to recognise resilience to overcome barriers to success.

Guest speaker, Professor Kirsten Benkendorff, Director of the National Marine Science Centre at
Southern Cross University, inspired the audience by talking about having a passion and believing in it.

She shared about growing up in a rural area on the outskirts of Sydney and developing a passion, from a young age, for observing nature around her.

She said that her time at the University of Wollongong, where she studied marine biology, led to her becoming a world authority in her specialisation related to marine molluscs.

Professor Benkendorff spoke about the challenges women face to excel in science and that perseverance and the passion to believe in yourself and to get others to believe in you is essential for success.

The Maude Spielvogel Scholarship, worth $1250, was awarded to Demi Spencer-Hirt, who is studying game design and the Wendy Martin Education Encouragement Award of $750 went to Charlotte Wilkins who is studying psychology.

Ms Spencer-Hirt said she was diagnosed with Ross River Virus just over a year ago, which, she said, felt like the start of a series of unfortunate events.

She became easily exhausted as a result of her illness and, soon after, her mother had two major spinal surgeries.

At the same time, Queensland closed its borders to NSW and she was completely unable to see her family, which had her feeling very down.

Ms Spencer-Hirt said she felt very far from finishing her Certificate IV in game design late last year but was given an extension, which allowed her the time she needed to complete her final assessments.

She said, “I was very fortunate to have had so much support from my teachers and felt that they believed in my ability.”

Ms Spencer-Hirt said that she hopes to continue with her studies to complete a bachelor degree.


By Andrew VIVIAN

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