For RMIT student Jesse, a scholarship not only allowed him to focus more on his study, but to head overseas and help others too.
The scholarship gives me the support to focus on my studies, but also extracurricular activities, like my work with Engineers Without Borders."
RMIT's City campus was a long way from Jesse’s home town of Bright - 300 kilometres, or four hours' drive down the Hume Highway to be exact.
Finishing high school and leaving Bright was a big transition for him, after being accepted into a five-year double degree in Civil Engineering and International Studies.
Jesse studied long hours during the week and worked in a café every Saturday and Sunday to support himself. "Studying and working like that is pretty draining. That's one of the hardest things about study - coping with all these different stresses you've got."
Thanks to good grades, he was then awarded a scholarship designed for disadvantaged and high achieving students. "The scholarship gave me the support to focus on my studies, but also extracurricular activities, like my work with Engineers Without Borders," he says.
Engineers Without Borders brings together engineering students, young graduates, and experienced engineers to help solve basic, small scale engineering problems faced by people in developing countries. It was founded by RMIT graduate Daniel Almagor, who was also named RMIT's Alumnus of the Year in 2009.
Through Engineers Without Borders Jesse found out about a unique project as part of RMIT's study abroad program. In the third year of his course he travelled to Ho Chi Minh City to take on an internship with NGO-“Habitat for Humanity“, which builds houses for communities in need around the world.
"It certainly wasn't a holiday," he says of the experience. "I worked with other engineers from Engineers Without Borders to develop a building code for the different regions that Habitat for Humanity works in. Many regions in South Vietnam are prone to flooding and typhoons. The code gives people a blueprint to build houses that are better designed and able to cope with weather extremes or natural disasters."
Jesse was inspired by his experience in Vietnam, and plans to work as an engineer on international development projects after graduating. "The scholarship had a further reaching impact than just on me as an individual. It allowed me to go and do other things that help the community," he says.
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