Nothing to lose, everything to gain

Celia Vandestadt, Westpac Scholar

Celia Vandestadt, PhD student and Westpac Scholar, Monash University 


When I first came across the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship I was immediately drawn to what the organisation was trying to achieve; support those who have a vision for contributing to a more prosperous Australia. Now entering into the final year of my PhD I often find myself reflecting on what an incredible opportunity the scholarship continues to be for me. I have been able to gain greater confidence in my professional skills, expand my networks and develop my research ideas with world leaders in my field.


Without any hesitation I strongly encourage any eligible postgraduate student to set aside any doubts and give this application your best shot. Here are my top reasons why you should start dreaming big and begin your submission today. To help get the ball rolling I’ve also added a question to each topic that I found helpful to think about when shaping my application.


There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. 
As postgraduates we have all selected a topic to study that resonates with us and which we believe to be important for progressing society. To really make these next few years of effort count you should start envisioning the impact you want to make with your career now. In this regard the process of applying for a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship is rewarding in itself. The application process not only requires that you think deeply about your passions and aspirations, it also forces you to articulate ways that you believe your work will make a difference to your bigger picture. Scholarship or not, starting your studies by having clarity around your ‘why’ and ‘how’ will help you to shape your experience and motivate you when things get tough. 

Ask yourself: What is the change that I want to see and how will I contribute to it?


The Leadership Development Program. 
A key component of the Westpac Future Leaders scholarship is dedicated to your personal development as a leader. This involves tailored training in areas such as growth mindset, design thinking and unconscious bias, to name a few, and is delivered by the very best thought leaders across the country. The strength of this program not only lies in what you learn, but largely in the connection you make as a cohort. The energy that is created by a collective week of pushing each other’s minds is beyond electric. Our group of Westpac Scholars, like the others which have followed, quickly became a family of lifelong friends dedicated to seeing each other succeed. 

Ask yourself: What skills do I need to acquire to contribute effectively to the change I want to see?


International Experience. 
Westpac recognises that to excel throughout our time as students we must learn from the best, wherever they may be. To achieve this you have the flexibility to create an international experience that you believe will launch your knowledge beyond any standard postgraduate education. Whether it be through conferences, workshops, field work or internships you have the freedom to chase down the experiences that will take your work to the front of the pack in your field. 

Ask yourself: What experiences and knowledge do I need to gain to establish credibility in my field?


Building a network through W100 and Monash. 
You will likely already be aware that inevitably every careers panel or workshop turns to the importance of building your network, and this is not by accident. An important factor in expanding your network is the opportunities you chase to get yourself out there. As a Westpac Scholar you are offered many opportunities to meet both Scholars and affiliates from across Westpac. . Becoming a Westpac Scholar also helps to boost your awareness across the university. I have found this has led to new experiences I would not have otherwise thought to pursue such as fundraising, public speaking, and involvement with university committees and working groups. 

Ask yourself: Not only what a network can do for my aspirations, but what might I have to offer to those who I connect with.


The W100 Alumni community. 
As an inaugural Westpac Scholar I was lucky enough to hit the ground running and put my leadership into practice as a Victorian State Champion for the Westpac 100 Scholars Network (the Alumni). This experience has been one of the most rewarding opportunities I’ve been granted as a Scholar because it allowed me to start giving back to the Program that gave so much to me and work with an incredibly enthusiastic team to support our growing local alumni network. This community is a constant source of rich and diverse inspiration which is destined to grow each year. 

Ask yourself: In what way can I contribute/give back?


So if you’re considering a PhD or Masters, I strongly encourage you to look into the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship. Find out more about Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship here.  

Celia Vandestadt is one of 17 inaugural Westpac Future Leaders Scholars. She is currently in her final year of her PhD at Monash University in Melbourne, where she is studying Zebrafish to ultimately unlock the potential to regenerate the brain and spinal cord.


Published 29 August 2018 

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