Six Griffith STEM undergraduates receive scholarships

Scholarship winner Kelly Meuleman learned she'd been successful while on a recent holiday in India

Second year Bachelor of Pharmacy student Kelly Meuleman is one of six Griffith students to receive a total of $40,000 and mentorship as part of the Women in STEM2D joint Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Griffith University scholarship project.

Griffith is one of just 13 universities worldwide, and the first in Australia, to participate in the program.

Kelly Meuleman

Based at Gold Coast campus, Kelly learned she’d received a scholarship while on an overnight train in India.

“My elated response caught the attention of the train carriage and I am sure a number of people wondered what was wrong with me. It was very difficult to contain my excitement as I have had a difficult few months and knowing that a complete stranger had read my application and saw something they deemed worthy of a scholarship helped to restore some of the self belief that I had recently lost,” she said.

“The scholarship means a big financial weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can really focus on my studies.”

Kelly says travel inspired her decision to study pharmacy.

“The more I travelled the more I saw first hand how the lack of access to basic healthcare was impacting the lives of so many people and it became something that I wanted to change. When I was in Iran I met a pharmacist and she helped me see the incredible impact a pharmacist can have on healthcare, so I decided to study pharmacy.”

Ela Heiniger

22 year old fourth year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Electronic and Biomedical Engineering student Ela Heiniger lives at Burleigh, also studies at Gold Coast campus and competes in surf lifesaving.

She has had to extend her studies to allow fulfil a large training workload, which means she will complete her degree at the end of 2020.

“This financial assistance will allow me to complete my final year of studying without additional financial burden and stress,” she said.

“Studying to become a biomedical engineer is a rewarding experience as it offers me a range of opportunities to develop and improve medical devices which may then be utilised to enhance the lives of others.

“This scholarship is a great honour ….. I would love to apply my skills and experience to a healthcare company such as J and J, with an ultimate goal of improving the ultimate wellbeing of society.”

Luana Ross

39 year old nursing student Luana Ross said the scholarship would ensure she finished her degree at Logan campus.

“Prior to being notified ofthe scholarship, completing my degree this year was questionableand discussions of deferring courses had begun,” she admitted.

“Growing up I had a lack of self confidence in believing I had the ‘smarts’ to continue education after high school.

“I had previously enrolled in four Universities but never had the courage to attend. It was out of necessity to improve our current family situation andthe (late but necessary) epiphany that we needed tocreate positive generational change in attitude toward higher education. The change in mindset and ease of enrolling into Griffith is what was the final push that drove me to face my fears and do it anyway.

Fellow award recipient Kathleen Jackson said attending Griffith was a privilege but admitted the “expense of studying, placements and ordinary living expenses can be overwhelming and discouraging at times.”

“Being awarded a scholarship has made me feel like everything I was working towards in my future is finally within reach.

Kathleen Jackson

“I love nursing because it’s a profession that never stops giving I learn new things every day… and I feel so good inside when I see improvement in my patients.

“My short-term goal is to obtain a Graduate Program at Logan Hospital within there Surgical Wards. Even though the competition is fierce to get a Graduate Program in Metro South Hospitals, I want to give back to my community. When I was in a time of need the Logan, community was there for me and I just feel the best way to give back is to work at the community’s main hospital.”

Professor Debra Henly, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor, said the partnership was an important means of increasing the number of women working in STEM-related areas.

“Griffith University is delighted to be working with J&J to promote careers in STEM to our female students through mentorship from J&Jand the generous provision of scholarships that support talented women to stay at university to complete their studies,” she added.

The joint scholarship project, launched in January this year, is part of Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s commitment to developing and implementing high-impact strategies to support female students undertaking degree courses in the fields of STEM2D.

Students will be mentored by commercial leaders at the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, with first-hand experience of site tours, mentorship, and project and career workshops allowing them to visualise a career in STEM outside of academia.

Award recipients include four Gold Coast based undergrads and two studying at Logan campus.

1. Ela Heiniger: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Electronic and Biomedical Engineering, 4th year, Gold Coast Campus

2. Jacquelyn Wilson: Bachelor of Information Technology, 2nd year, Gold Coast Campus

3. Kelly Meuleman: Bachelor of Pharmacy, 2nd year, Gold Coast Campus

4. Katharina Gutjahr-Holland: Bachelor of Health Science, 2nd year, Gold Coast Campus

5. Kathleen Jackson: Bachelor of Nursing, 3rd year, Logan Campus

6. Luana Ross: Bachelor of Nursing, 3rd year, Logan Campus

The project also provides research funding to identify barriers that prevent female students from joining and staying in STEM-related degrees and solutions to overcome those barriers.