$45k helps students accelerate studies

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
(L-R) 2024 QCoal Foundation bursary recipients Billie Cummings and Jade Shearer with 2024 QCoal Foundation Scholarship recipient Taylor Dockerty.

Four first-year James Cook University students from regional Queensland have shared in a $45,000 scholarship fund designed to help them excel in their studies. 

For the first time, the QCoal Foundation has awarded not only its annual $30,000 scholarship, but three additional bursaries to JCU students.

Speech Pathology student Taylor Dockerty is the major scholarship recipient for 2024 and joins Education student Emily Wright from Sarina, Veterinary Science student Billie Cummings from Atherton, and Geology student Jade Shearer from Cairns, who have each received a one-off $5000 bursary from the Foundation.

Ms Dockerty hails from Queensland’s rural central highlands town of Emerald and says she is thrilled to receive the scholarship, which provides $30,000 over three years to ease the financial pressures associated with her studies.

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“The scholarship will help push me even further to succeed and do the best I can in my classes,” the 18-year-old says.

Supporting regional communities

“Now living six hours away in Townsville, I definitely needed something to make that transition smoother, and when I read the application criteria for the scholarship, it was all about giving back to your rural community which is exactly what I have planned when I finish my degree.

“I believe in, and advocate for, bringing more allied Health professionals to the regions because those communities really need them.”

Ms Dockerty says her inspiration to study speech pathology came from witnessing how difficult it was for a family member to find a speech pathologist in her home-town community.

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“The shortest waitlist was three months and they needed early intervention so we couldn’t afford to be waiting that long,” Ms Dockerty says.

“I don’t want other families to go through the lengthy process we had to in order to get a speech pathologist in Emerald or the surrounding regions.”

Giving back matters

She encourages future school leavers who are passionate about giving back to their community to apply for the scholarship.

“Put yourself out there and sell yourself as best you can,” she says.

QCoal Foundation CEO Sylvia Bhatia said the board and team at the Foundation were extremely impressed by the calibre of applicants vying for this year’s scholarship and the overall quality of students from regional and remote Queensland choosing a regional option for their tertiary studies.

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“We are very pleased Taylor has accepted the scholarship and, in recognition of the exceptionally high-quality field of applicants, we wanted to provide three significant bursaries,” Ms Bhatia says.

“We are also very aware of the current cost of living pressures, which are typically amplified for students attending university from rural and remote areas. Our recipients are also studying in professions we know to be in high demand in regional and rural communities – speech pathology, teaching, geology, and vet science.”

commitment to strengthening local knowledge

In awarding the QCoal Foundation Scholarship, she says assessing the students’ aspirations to return to work in the regions after graduation is a key component.

“This is why we continue to partner with JCU as the data shows their alumni are highly likely to pursue careers in regional and remote communities after graduation,” Ms Bhatia says, adding that the Foundation is proud to support the latest recipients and also continues to track the career progression of previous recipients, many of whom are now working in regional, rural and remote areas.

“We congratulate and send our best wishes to all applicants,” Ms Bhatia says.

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“The future of the regions is in safe hands.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live