New $2.4 million scholarship program for young leaders building a brighter future

Zahra Al Hilaly with microphone on stage presenting to audience

Murdoch University is offering new scholarships to every secondary school in Western Australia, providing opportunities for young people who are driving change on big societal challenges.

Launched today, the Ngala Kwop Biddi Brighter Futures Scholarship is the first of its kind for WA, based on demonstrated attributes of citizenship and advocacy. 

“These scholarships are unique in that they support students who are raising awareness and motivating others across the key areas of Sustainability; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; and First Nations recognition,” Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Deeks said.
“Typically, university scholarships are awarded to students for academic excellence or to address disadvantage.

These new scholarships are unique in recognising and supporting students who are strengthening our community through awareness-building and change."
Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Deeks

Ngala Kwop Biddi Scholarships will be available to all final year secondary students commencing their studies the following year – regardless of their entry pathway – from each of WA’s 250 secondary schools with Year 12s, including Catholic and other non-government colleges.  

Murdoch has committed $2.4 million over three years to the scholarship program, with recipients receiving $12,000 over the course of their degree. Nominations open today, 16 June, 2023.  

Zahra Al Hilaly – a first generation Australian from a Palestinian and Iraqi family, Murdoch Law and Communications graduate, and recent finalist in the youth category of the Western Australian of the Year Awards – spoke at yesterday’s launch about her own journey as a champion for gender equality, youth policy and refugee rights.

Attending Murdoch was one of the best experiences I had in growing my advocacy skills and opportunities.”
Zahra Al Hilaly
“I’ve been fortunate to learn from incredible role models like Associate Professor Sonia Walker (Head of School, Law and Criminology); Professor Lisa Young and Associate Professor Mary Anne Kenny, who are some of the remarkable women creating change across the legal sector.”

Ms Al Hilaly said they and other Murdoch academics had encouraged her to explore new opportunities to grow her advocacy. 

“I am a firm believer that our environments nourish our growth and for me, Murdoch University and the support I received did just that,” she said.

John Van Dyk, Head of Senior School at Aquinas College, said a values-based scholarship should be celebrated.  

“It will recognise young people with a growth mindset who see beyond their personal needs to the global society they live in to celebrate diversity, improve sustainability or by demonstrating First Nations leadership,” he said.  

Recipients will demonstrate, through their actions, that the 21st century will be dominated by those who focus on the application, rather than the acquisition of knowledge."
John Van Dyk, Head of Senior School at Aquinas College
“We celebrate Murdoch University for initiating a values-based scholarship which can recognise students of strong character, who engage with the world around them, by being young people of action.”  

While not awarded on academic excellence, scholarship recipients must demonstrate the impact of their leadership, and meet eligibility requirements for entry into their chosen course.  

Kalea Haran, Principal at Penrhos College, supported the initiative to recognise students for more than just academic achievements. 

“While academic achievements are undoubtedly important, focusing solely on academic excellence can limit the development of students,” Ms Haran said.  

“A values-based scholarship that extends beyond academic excellence, with ideals such as sustainability, diversity, and First Nations leadership, allows schools to select students who demonstrate that they are well-rounded individuals who are a force for good, and who actively contribute to their communities and work towards a more inclusive and sustainable future.” 

The three pillars of Sustainability; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; and First Nations recognition reflect Murdoch University’s own Strategy and purpose in contributing to the solution of societal and environmental challenges. 

These scholarships support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

Posted on:

16 Jun 2023

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