Former Gosford High School student Emily Simpson is bound for Hong Kong next year, thanks to a New Colombo Plan scholarship.
She is one of four exceptional University of Newcastle students to secure the prestigious scholarship.
Simpson, 21, has been studying Civil Engineering at Newcastle uni for two years and said receiving the scholarship was “surreal”.
“My dad is an engineer so I was familiar with that field growing up,” she said.
“I have always had a love for joining English with maths and the consulting side of civil engineering just gelled with me; I love the mechanics of it.”
Simpson said there was a rigorous process involved in applying for the scholarship.
“First you have to go through the rounds to be accepted by the university as an applicant it is willing to put forward,” she said.
“Then after being chosen by the uni, there was quite a rigmarole involved to go through the application process with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“It will be an incredible experience,
“Hopefully I will live on campus for the first six months and they will provide accommodation close to the workplace for the internship.
“It will be my first time living out of home – and it will be overseas.
“But I love travelling and am so excited by this awesome opportunity.”
Simpson said continuing her civil engineering studies overseas would be invaluable.
“At Newcastle uni we focus on activities around us – it will be so interesting to see another side of that in Hong Kong,” she said.
She hopes to leave for the adventure in July next year.
“My parents know I’m a bit of a go-getter so although they were a bit shocked I had applied for the scholarship, because it’s a big step, they are proud and excited,” she said.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Marise Payne, said the program gives Australia’s best and brightest undergraduate students opportunities to undertake semester-based study and internships or mentorships in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Australian Government initiative is designed to strengthen ties between Australia and the Indo-Pacific, with the scholarship program offering recipients unique opportunities to enrich their learning and global citizenship.
Simpson will join fellow students Jake Stephens, Katherine Birrell and Chelsea Harris, who will study in Samoa, Fiji and Japan as the four develop their skills in fields such as development issues, cross-linguistic communication and construction technology and management.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global), Professor Kent Anderson, said he was impressed with the calibre of scholars representing the university of Newcastle as Australia re-engages with the Indo-Pacific following the progressive reopening of international borders and travel into 2022.
“The New Colombo Plan scholarship program is about building knowledge, linking people, equipping leaders and increasing Australia’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific,” Anderson said.
“I congratulate Jake, Katherine, Chelsea and Emily who have each earned a unique and valuable opportunity to enhance their global awareness and broaden their knowledge.
“I wish them well as they continue to achieve excellence.”
The scholars will visit their host countries in 2022 to undertake semester study or honours research as well as completing internships and language training.
In 2022, around a quarter of the 125 scholars from all over Australia are from regional and rural areas, over a quarter speak a language other than English at home, and more than half are women.