USC student to jet overseas after receiving prestigious scholarship

Published 5:00am 31 May 2022

USC student to jet overseas after receiving prestigious scholarship
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

A Caboolture wife and mother of two will pack up her family and leave the country to live abroad after receiving a New Colombo Plan Scholarship which will allow her to complete her studies and work as an intern at the toy company Mattel.

Jessica Whyman will travel to Malaysia and Japan over the next 19 months after being named as a recipient of the 2022 New Colombo Plan Scholarship.

The scholarship, which is an initiative of the Australian Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, aims to lift the knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the region.

For Jessica, who is completing a Bachelor of Creative Industries at the University of Sunshine Coast (USC), majoring in creative writing and publishing and minoring in marketing, it is an opportunity of a lifetime.

“We have sold our house and everything we own. We are currently living with my mother-in-law for a couple of weeks before we hopefully leave at the end of June, depending on the visas,” Jessica said.

“We wanted to make sure we weren’t tied down so we could make the most of any opportunities that come our way, whether that be back in Australia or anywhere else in the world.”

It was an eight-month process to apply for the scholarship and included a written application and a panel interview with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

A total of 125 students across Australian universities are selected every year for the scholarship.

A change in career

After finishing high school, Jessica completed a Law and Justice Degree at the Queensland University of Technology.

She then worked for 13 years in criminal law in prosecutions and other various departments within the Queensland Government.

But after the birth of her children Evangeline, now 4, and Lachlan, 2, with husband Albert, Jessica returned to university at the age of 28 to follow her passion for books, events, community engagement and the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museum).

Today, she studies across USC’s Petrie and Sunshine Coast campuses.

“I was originally drawn to law to help empower people,” Jessica said.

“Although law and creative industries are quite different degrees, I don’t think there is much of a difference to what I want to achieved through them, which is to empower people. But now I aim to do that through books and literature.

“I have always loved books, and I’ve seen the transformative affect literacy has on people.

“Books can do amazing and incredible things, especially when in the hands of children.”

USC student to jet overseas after receiving prestigious scholarship
Above: Jessica is studying a Bachelor of Creative Industries at the University of Sunshine Coast. 

Working at Mattel

As part of her internship, Jessica will be working at Mattel’s office in Kuala Lumpur, as well as their office in Jakarta.

“I will be working in Mattel’s events and community outreach,” Jessica said.

“They have a number of projects that help to empower girls, especially Dream Gap, which empowers girls to believe they can be anything they want to be and a project with Hot Wheels to increase its reach in the Asia Pacific.

“I will also be working on other projects that empower children through free play, which encourages them to play and develop however their imagination transpires.”

Studying abroad in Japan

After her internship, Jessica and her family will travel to Japan where she will attend Doshisha University in Kyoto for two terms studying culture, language and literacy. She will also be undertaking language emersion and language training to learn the Japanese language.

While there, she has enrolled her children in a local school so they can fully immerse themselves in the language and culture.

Words of encouragement

After receiving this incredible opportunity, Jessica would like to encourage other students across Moreton Bay to consider applying for The New Colombo Plan Scholarship.

“I would encourage everyone to apply for this scholarship because I think there is a place for everyone. You have something to give to the program even if you underestimate what that is,” Jessica said.

USC student to jet overseas after receiving prestigious scholarship
Above: Jessica with her husband Albert and children Evangeline and Lachlan. 

More about the scholarship

The New Colombo Plan Scholarship involves a scholarship and internships or mentorship program for up to 19 months, alongside separate flexible mobility grants program for both short and longer-term study, internships, mentorships, practicums and research.

It encourages a two-way flow of students between Australia and the rest of the region, complementing the thousands of students from the Indo-Pacific region who come to Australia to study each year as well as lift the knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting university graduates.

In 2014, the New Colombo Plan began as a pilot supporting 40 scholars and more than 1300 mobility students to study and undertake work placements across four pilot locations – Indonesia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.

The New Colombo Plan is now supporting students to study and undertake internships in 40 locations across the Indo-Pacific from South Asia in the west to Mongolia in the north, and the Cook Islands in the east.

Open to all Australian undergraduates across Australia, the New Colombo Plan supports around 120 students a year, who represent the diversity of the Australian community.

More information about the scholarship can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

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