Mikayla McGuirk-Scolaro is from Temora, a small town in country NSW, population: 4,500. One of the first from her family and one of just nine of her high school peers to go on to tertiary study, she’s determined to make her family and every one of her community proud – and show that where you come from doesn’t limit where you can go.
The first-year Bachelor of Media and Communications/Bachelor of Arts (Dean’s Scholar) student says while moving from the country to a “big city” was tough, UOW has always been her first choice of university.
“Wollongong is a lot bigger and busier than Temora. I’ve never lived with roommates before and I’ve had to get used to taking buses around town which was something I never did back home. I remember being so nervous for my first lecture, I arrived 40 minutes early!
“But it’s a lot more eccentric and exciting in Wollongong. I love the atmosphere on campus and being so close to the beach. I’ve loved meeting new people too.
“I still miss my family a lot – and there are definitely times I still wish I could just walk to Woolies – but I’ve really enjoyed the experiences I’ve had so far and the opportunities I’ve been able to take here. I feel as though I’ve grown, and am still growing, into my own person.”
Known as the caring “mumma bear” amongst her friends, Mikayla says she has always been involved in her community and helping young people. Her passion to pursue a double-degree majoring in Journalism, Global Screen Media and History is closely linked to her desire to educate and advocate.
“I hope to grow my knowledge of broadcast journalism so I can give back to my community, spreading the word of the myriad of disadvantaged students in the rural area. I’d like to create documentaries investigating the lives of people and discovering things about the world to educate audiences.
“I’m on a mission to become the next David Attenborough of history documentaries or maybe the next top editor of a magazine.
“I have always loved learning and am very ambitious and determined in my studies. I was one of those students who woke up at 4am to get some extra studying in. Education is so important and often country schools have to fight a little harder to receive the resources they need and deserve.
“That’s why I’m so thankful for opportunities like this scholarship, that acknowledge these hardships and provide much-needed support to people from small regional communities.
Mikayla says she is honoured and grateful to be a part of scholarship program of The George Alexander Foundation.
“The foundation’s generosity has given me the funding I need to complete my degree to the best of my ability. It has allowed me to elevate myself and broaden my awareness of what I can achieve during my university career.
“Coming from a low-socioeconomic background has taught me the power of generosity and kindness. This scholarship is life-changing for someone like me.
“I’d like to say thank you to those who selected me, for their support. I love being a part of UOW and because of the George Alexander Foundation, I can continue my studies to the fullest of my capabilities. I can remain confident in pursuing my future endeavours because I know there are people who have my back.”
Read more: Achievement against the odds