Bendigo’s new Aspire students inspire during orientation

Aspire students Bridget, Imogen and Jess.

When new Engineering student Jess went on a school trip to East Timor in Year 11, it sent her on a bigger journey that has led to La Trobe.

There Jess witnessed the challenges of everyday life due to the country’s poor infrastructure.

“I want to go into third-world countries and give people the skills to build better buildings, gutters, roads … structures that will be sturdy against things like earthquakes.”

She said studying engineering is the ticket that will get her there. “Plus, I love physics and maths,” she added on her course of choice.

Jess is also part of this year’s Aspire program, which recognises community-minded young people with an early study offer, reduced ATAR requirements and other benefits.

Head of Campus Rob Stephenson welcomes new Aspire students.

“We think there are things other than an ATAR that actually count and that determine your ability to be a terrific student, graduate and employee,” said Head of Campus Rob Stephenson at this week’s event to welcome our new Aspire students to campus.

Here Jess met Bridget and Imogen.

Bridget is a long-time volunteer with the Yea Football Netball Club. She said qualifying to be an Aspire student made her dream uni course possible.

“It helped so much to lower my ATAR so I could study physio,” she said. “Since year nine I’ve wanted to be a physiotherapist because my mum is one. When I heard about Aspire it actually gave me the chance to do this.”

Imogen completed most of her education at the Melbourne Steiner School before studying VCAL and VET subjects. She gained a place in our Outdoor Education course via her community work while completing the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Edward and Kate at the Aspire welcome event on campus.

Girton Grammar School alumni Edward and Kate caught up at the welcome event. Both qualified for Aspire due to their volunteer work.

Edward is studying Industrial Engineering and Kate is studying Secondary Teaching.

“I helped primary school kids at my school who were struggling in sports activities due to their Autism,” Edward said. “The school helped me a lot, so I wanted to give back.”

Kate was part of a team who met once a month to make sandwiches for young students in nearby Victorian schools who would otherwise go without lunch, through the program Eat Up.

Kate and Lucy find common ground through the Aspire program.

New Oral Health student Kate, of Numurkah, was the Social Justice Captain at her school. She also volunteered with the local soup kitchen, helping provide hot meals to vulnerable people in her community.

She said the Aspire program lowered the ATAR of her course by 12 points, plus took the pressure off during the final weeks of her VCE, due to receiving an early offer to study in Bendigo. She says being able to come to uni close to home was also a big plus.

Outdoor Education student Lucy has traveled from Sydney for her course. There she volunteered with Reverse Garbage; a charity that collected off cuts and wastage from manufacturers and re-purposed them as craft supplies for schools.

She says pursuing Outdoor Education aligns well with the importance she places on sustainability.

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