An InspirED evening celebrating our UWA Fogarty Scholars

The UWA Fogarty Scholars and Alumni enjoyed an evening of canapés and music on Thursday, as they celebrated another inspiring year of learning, leadership and collective accomplishment. InspirED is the final event of the year for the Leadership and Enterprise program where UWA executive and staff, past speakers and friends of the Scholarship Program are invited to see and celebrate the achievement s of the Scholars.

Here to Help – Perth’s Charity Band, founded by UWA Fogarty Scholar Michael Hooper, provided a warm welcome to guests including past and present Fogarty Scholars, Professor Amit Chakma, Vice Chancellor of UWA, Annie Fogarty, Executive Chairperson of the Fogarty Foundation and special guests.

Professor Amit Chakma spoke about the significance of the scholarship program and congratulated the Scholars and Alumni for their committed commitment to education, excellence and achieving wonderful things all over the world. 

Fogarty Scholars Ellen Smith and Josh Peckover shared anecdotes about their recent adventures co-convening the Fogarty Futures Leadership Conference, while Luke Thomas shared his experiences working for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra. Guests were also inspired by the leadership efforts of Michael Hooper for creating Here to Help – Perth’s Charity Band, and Rachel Tantular as she spoke about her upcoming charity Indo-Pacific Traditional Music Concert.

Alexander van Hoek was announced as the 2021 recipient of the Jeremy Cheang Award.  This award is presented to a Scholars to acknowledge their contribution to their chosen profession, the University and/or the wider community and to support them in their initiative.  Alex received the award for his creation of Systematic, an aspiring not-for-profit initiative to help children foster a passion for STEM topics and skills. 

Thank you to everyone who attended this InspirED event. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear from UWA Fogarty Scholars who are working towards and/or acting as leaders in our community and beyond.  

Why did you apply to be a UWA Fogarty Scholar?
For years, the Fogarty Foundation has been renowned as a leader in the advancement of education and giving back to the community. It is these fundamental beliefs that really drew me to apply. I read a book many years ago and in it, the main character’s motto in life was to, ‘leave the world a little better than you found it.’ This really resonated with me, becoming my motivation in my last years of high school, whilst doing voluntary work and in my personal development. I believe that at its core, the Fogarty Foundation strives for a similar outcome and I felt that becoming a Fogarty Scholar would provide me with many opportunities and ideas regarding making this positive difference in the world and giving back to the community.

What are you studying and why have you chosen that field?
I am studying a double major in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Immunology & Microbiology. I find the areas of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Microbiology especially interesting as I am eager to discover and begin to understand all the microscopic processes and changes that occur literally under our noses, especially those we cannot see or even begin to comprehend. I am also keen to delve more deeply into the mechanisms of life, and through my understanding of many of these concepts, be able to assist in areas such as immunology and genetics, and hopefully contribute to great improvements in fields such as human health.

What do you aspire to be in the future?
I aspire to be an innovative leader in areas such as human health or genetics, either involved in research or out in the field, actively making a difference. I would love to be able to assist those less fortunate than me, as I have always been aware of my relatively privileged position in life, and I would love to be a part of a movement towards equality.

What positive changes would you like to see in the world, and how will you contribute to these changes?
I have always been aware of the stark contrast in the standards of living between the developed and the developing worlds. I would love to see, and be part of, a global movement towards equality, especially in areas such as human health. I am keen to become qualified in areas such as immunology and molecular biology to understand the causes behind major diseases and afflictions, and hence, be able to promote healthy changes in developing countries.

Who do you look up to and why?
I have always been interested in the sciences and have been lucky enough to grow up in an era where girls entering STEM industries are highly encouraged. My godmother, Megan Maher, is an Associate Professor in Chemical Biology at Melbourne University, and has throughout her career, received many awards for her pioneering work, such as the Georgina Sweet Award for Women in Quantitative Biomedical Science in 2017. Megan followed her natural passion at a young age, when women in the industry were few and far between. She worked hard to achieve her goals and is now using her knowledge to give back to others. Her drive and resilience make her a great inspiration to me.

How is university life thus far?
The intricacies of university life have been a lot to adjust to, but despite the initial shock, I’m loving it. The independence is so different to high school, and the amount of self-direction that is expected is refreshing. I really like how the lecturers and professors treat us as adults and are more than happy to be challenged and engaged in discussions. At high school, my favourite subject would have been the highlight of my day, but here, every unit is just a different aspect of my favourite subject, and it makes studying (almost) enjoyable!

What have you found good/bad/fun?
One of the things I love about university is how it is a meeting place for people from all around Perth. I have reconnected with many old friends from a variety of places, and it’s easy to bond over little things like the insane number of lectures we’ve yet to watch. I also really like how Reid Library is the central hub of campus – it is so easy to pop in and grab a coffee, watch a lecture, or just have a chat with a friend. The biggest struggle for me so far has been the sheer size of campus – I find walking the kilometre from my bus stop to my chemistry lab so much more tiring than it should be and have learnt to plan my days based on the locations of my classes. All in all, I really love the freedom afforded to me by the style of learning that university offers.

Have you found any great places to have a coffee or eat while at uni?
I must admit, I have done my fair share of trying out all the options, and I have enjoyed everywhere I’ve been. I do find myself at the Quobba Gnarning Cafe in Reid Library all too often as it is just so convenient to pop in and have a look around rather than beginning that next quiz. I love the smoothies from Hackett and I’m a fan of drinking my coffee out of a mug instead of a take-away cup, so I often pop in there to check some emails or just to enjoy the cozy space. One thing I have noticed though, which I must recommend everyone tries, is that no matter where you go on campus, the caramel slices are divine! I have tried them from Quobba Gnarning, Catalyst and Hackett, and so far, I can’t fault them!

UWA Fogarty Scholarship Alumni, Dave Sherwood has been named in Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Social Entrepreneurs for 2019. The Forbes 30 Under 30 is a set of lists issued annually by Forbes magazine identifying the next generation of entrepreneurs, visionaries, and trailblazers.

Dave Sherwood completed a Bachelor of Science (Chemistry & Physics) as part of the UWA Fogarty Scholarship Program. During his time at UWA and inspired by his rural schooling experience at Bunbury Senior High School, Sherwood co-founded Teach Learn Grow, an initiative to enable rural and Indigenous students to reach their full potential.

As the 2013 Western Australian Rhodes Scholar, Sherwood relocated to Oxford University, during which time he co-founded Bibliotech, the ‘Spotify for textbooks’. 

Bibliotech is a webapp providing students and universities with affordable online access to all the textbooks they need, at any time, on any device, without being limited by individual personal budgets. The idea behind Bibliotech was conceived by Sherwood, who realised that there was a gap in the e-reading market, with students having to buy physical textbooks for extortionate prices. 

Over 30 major international universities like NYU and University of Oxford are now turning to the Bibliotech team to provide digital textbooks and eLearning software. Sherwood and fellow co-founder Daniel Engelke and Tao Mantaras have raised over $5.5 million in funding and work with publishers like Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Wiley.