A scholarship has helped me to work on major infrastructure projects in SA

As an engineer, I am helping to build infrastructure, provide essential services for our community, and am proud of what I have achieved so far.

My name is Arna Smith and it is my honour to write to you today.

I’ll be honest with you, I hope that by sharing my story you will be inspired to support students through scholarships to give them the chance to realise their academic potential. I was very fortunate to receive a scholarship at a crucial time in my life, from people just like you, which helped me to focus on my studies in Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours). You can choose to believe in a student in the same way others believed in me.

I grew up in Adelaide and for as long as I can remember I have been interested in understanding the world around me. I have always been very curious and eager to learn more.

In my first year at UniSA, I received the Sylvia Birdseye Scholarship, which has strongly shaped my career. That simple decision I made in my first week of university to submit an application has had such an impact on my life, and I will forever be grateful for the benefits I received.

Being one of only a few women in my classes didn’t impact my grades. In my first year, I was offered to accelerate my degree and completed a four year engineering degree in three years, based on my academic performance.

The presence of women in engineering has come a long way over the years, but there is still more progress to be made and I hope to see the gender gap decrease even more in years to come. I am thankful for those who came before me and paved the way, and in saying that, I hope to be an example of inspiration for young women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in the future.

Upon graduating with Honours, I continued to work at the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI), following my placement there as part of the Scholarship. I am now working on some major projects in South Australia and really enjoy seeing my work come into fruition and benefiting our community.

Engineering students at UniSA are required to complete placements as part of their studies, as you would have also done. These placements, which are currently over a 12 week period, are crucial for our future employment. It was incredibly helpful to have the financial support from the Scholarship while I was on placement and could dedicate my time to my studies and invaluable work experience without having to worry about how I would afford it. However, others are not so fortunate.

You may not know this, but in South Australia, UniSA has the highest rate of students from a disadvantaged background who successfully complete their degrees. In fact, nearly 30% of commencing students to UniSA come from an economically disadvantaged background.

So today, I strongly encourage you to make a donation to UniSA’s Scholarship Fund and invest in a student, one just like me. The UniSA Scholarship Fund provides scholarships and grants in the key areas of equity, excellence, international, Aboriginal students, and women in STEM.

Today’s students are the next generation of bright minds and innovative leaders. When they succeed, we all succeed. The more money raised, the more students who can receive a scholarship and receive the extra support needed to flourish in their studies. This is why I am supporting UniSA’s Scholarship Fund.

Looking back at my younger years, I am achieving what I always dreamed of. I am enjoying the challenge, the satisfaction of seeing a project from concept through to delivery, and combining technical theory with logic and creativity to improve solutions for our community.

I hope by sharing my story with you today, that you will be inspired to support more students through the UniSA Scholarship Fund.

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