Anyone who knows Josie McIntyre would agree she’s a very worthy recipient of a scholarship with encourages tertiary education students to return with their skills to rural areas.
The speech therapy student is one of four Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation (RASF) rural scholarship awardees in New England. The others are Cassie MacBean (Invergowrie), Emily Fielder (Narrabri) and Emma Longworth (Armidale).
Josie’s now in the second year of her degree at the University of Newcastle. She lives on campus in International House but regularly returns to Tenterfield to work here during school breaks and to catch up with family and friends. Any homesickness has been relieved somewhat by the arrive of younger brother Blair who is now studying mechanical engineering at the same uni and is also living on campus.
Josie was home recently home for a few days to celebrate Mothers Day and mum Bernadette’s birthday, and to catch her breath before launching into end-of-semester exams.
“It’s nice to come home and clear my head,” she said.
The $6000 scholarship has come as a huge relief. The first payment of $3000 went straight off her accomodation costs, postponing the need to find a semester job and freeing her to focus on her studies.
A friend at uni brought the scholarship opportunity to Josie’s attention, feeling that she fit the criteria being ‘a country girl’. Josie did her research and found another girl in her college who had received the scholarship the previous year.
“I hammered her for information,” Josie said.
The selection process was quite intensive, with interviews, short lists and another interview before she finally received word that the scholarship sponsored by Mary Weal had been assigned to her. Josie said she’s yet to meet her benefactor but has sent a letter of thanks.
She did manage to catch up with RAS councillors, board members, supporters and other scholarship awardees at a special function during the Royal Easter Show, and she will be attending a presentation night in Armidale on July 25, along with family and friends.
“Hopefully I’ll meet Mary there,” Josie said.
“I can’t explain the difference this scholarship makes to myself and my family.”
Josie said her parents have been great supporters but the scholarship gives them some breathing room too.
The aim of the rural scholarships is to support tertiary students to further their education and commit to bringing their skills back to benefit rural communities. That is exactly Josie’s intention, to address the demand for speech therapy in Tenterfield or a similar community once she graduates.
Financial support aside, Josie said just seeing this demonstration of confidence in her and in her aspirations has given her a boost.
“It’s nice to see that faith in me,” she said
“It’s pretty special.”
Josie racked up an enviable list of achievements while growing up in Tenterfield, which continues through her membership of the Tenterfield Show Society were she volunteers organising young showgirls.
She was Tenterfield’s 2016 Young Citizen of the Year, and received the Minister’s award for Excellence in Student Achievement while a Year 12 student at Tenterfield High School after being Director-General for a Day in Year 10. She’s also a great ambassador for Rotary’s youth programs, and last year shaved off all of her long dark hair for Shave for a Cure.
RAS Foundation Manager, Cecilia Logan says history shows scholarship funding reaps benefits not only for the students but their rural communities as well.
“While a desire to be a part of the future of rural NSW may already be there, the RASF Rural Scholarships assist in making that dream happen,” Ms Logan said.
“Many of these students have identified the unique needs of their local communities and are working towards giving back once they complete their studies. That may be through health, education, technology, agriculture or anything in between.”
Applications for the 2019 RASF’s Rural Scholarships open July 1 and close August 31.