“Take all the chances you can, go further, learn more, change lives.”
These are the words that University of Tasmania higher degree by research candidate and alumna Charlotte Jones carries with her as she embarks on an exciting new chapter as a 2021 Westpac Scholar.
They were uttered to her by a girl in Kiribati, a nation made up of 33 low-lying islands in the Pacific Ocean, which is recognised as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.
“Her words remind me of my responsibility to use further education and research to empower others,” Charlotte said.
Her determination to deliver social change and fight injustices was first fostered as a child when her grandmother encouraged her to crochet blankets for the local women’s shelter, and she collected books for a school in Vanuatu.
At every opportunity since, Charlotte has sought to use her skills to support others.
The Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship will give her PhD research into climate change and young people an extraordinary boost.
“The Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship has been an inspiring, valuable, encouraging and motivating opportunity,” Charlotte said.
She was initially tentative about applying for the prestigious scholarship.
“The little voice of self-doubt niggled away in my mind, as well as overwhelm, at the application process,” she said.
“However, once I began to look into the possibilities it could open for my research, for myself as a leader and the communities I am a part of, I thought I would give it a go.
She encourages others to apply for the prestigious scholarship and not be daunted by the application process.
“Reach out to some people around you to help you where they can and see it as an opportunity for you to grow in clarity of your research and in your own strengths, values and goals,” she said.
“A few key people at the University of Tasmania encouraged me to apply and I was able to chat with a previous scholar as I was writing my application; both of which helped increase my confidence and boldness to apply.”
The process of applying for the scholarship made her more confident in explaining her research and my vision for working alongside young people to effect change.
“I had the opportunity to reflect deeply on how we can create social change, in my own strengths and areas for growth as a leader, and what it is that really drives me.
“All of which have been so valuable as I have started my PhD journey.”
Charlotte said the scholarship offers the invaluable opportunity to learn in a community with diverse minds, to grow her understanding about her own skills and abilities, and to give generously to those around her.
“For me this has been a wonderful opportunity to be able to study in Tasmania and work with the community here, and at the same time be a part of a collective national network of scholars.
“I have received so much support from the other Westpac Scholars, and am excited to see where our collaborations go in the future.”