Aiming high

Fatma Alameddine

She’s got Everest Base Camp in her sights, but first things first – Jessica White has big plans to complete her Juris Doctor degree and give back to the community.

“I chose to study my law degree at UTS because I want to make a difference in the lives of others,” she says.

Jessica White has always loved to set goals that are mentally and physically challenging. While Everest Base Camp and the Kokoda Trail are on her to-do list, the high-achieving UTS student and single mother first has to overcome the challenges of a graduate law degree.

“I hope to have a life well above the poverty line for my daughter, which is unfortunately not possible for many sole parents in Australia.”

Now in the penultimate year of the Juris Doctor program, Jessica hopes to be admitted as a solicitor in NSW once she graduates, and to continue to give back to the community through pro bono legal work.

“I also hope to provide a life well above the poverty line for my daughter, which is unfortunately not possible for many sole parents in Australia.”

As a single mother with a young baby, Jessica struggled to balance her work and study commitments and parenting responsibilities. Jessica experienced domestic violence and was forced to leave the relationship.

The UTS Diversity Access Scholarship is providing Jessica with vital financial support she needs to continue her law degree and achieve her goal of helping others in need.

Jessica didn’t come from a disadvantaged background. She never thought she would need financial assistance.

"Being a single parent to a young child, I don’t have a lot of that financial backing. I don’t have somebody else at home bringing in a second income."

“I hope to have a life well above the poverty line for my daughter, which is unfortunately not possible for many sole parents in Australia.”

Yes, I want to help other UTS students get a scholarship

Community service has long been one of Jessica’s passions. Drawing on her undergraduate qualification in psychology, she has volunteered a large amount of time as a court support person with the charity Mission Australia.

A qualified hairdresser by trade, Jessica also provides hairdressing services to a network of other sole mothers in Sydney and assists them with household goods when they are in need. But, as Jessica found, balancing community service, study commitments and parenting responsibilities came with a cost.

“Since I started at UTS I have faced my own personal challenges,” she says. “Being a sole parent takes up vast amounts of time and emotional energy. There was also the financial struggle to adequately provide for a family while studying a full-time postgraduate course.”

Recognising that she needed support to continue her studies, Jessica reached out for help from UTS and was awarded the Diversity Access Scholarship.

She says the financial assistance has lifted a weight off her shoulders and “made a huge difference” to her study experience. “My grades have improved since being a recipient I have managed to hold a distinction average, and I feel this is largely due to the higher level of financial security going into each semester,” she says.

The scholarship has allowed Jessica to have back-up funds to feel less financially vulnerable and alleviate the pressures at home. It also allows her to qualify for equity loan textbooks from the Law Students’ Society at UTS and to have the funds to purchase texts when these aren't available for loan.

Over 80 percent of students said scholarships increased their aspirations to succeed, giving them a crucial confidence boost and the motivation, like Jessica, to give back.

For other students considering applying for the Diversity Access Scholarship, Jessica says: “Do it! You'll only regret not reaching out and asking for help sooner.”

I want to support students in financial hardship

Jessica is grateful for the support, "I’d really like to say thank you to everybody who donates money to scholarships at UTS. It has made such a difference in my life and my time as a student here. And I’m sure it’s made a difference in countless other lives as well."

Through the Diversity Access Scholarship, UTS is able to help students from a range of disadvantaged backgrounds by providing essential financial assistance for textbooks, academic support, accommodation and the cost of commuting.

Nearly 90 per cent of student said their scholarship reduced their stress and worry, giving them the focus to transform their futures through education.

The scholarships are only made possible through the generous donations we receive from our alumni and donor community to support deserving students like Jessica.

If you’re able to make a donation, it will go towards making sure UTS students have the opportunity to finish their degree successfully – an opportunity they may otherwise not have. The number of UTS students from low socio-economic backgrounds has increased by more than 50 per cent in the last decade.

A gift now will make a lifetime of difference