Three Curtin students have made us proud – Matthew Biletic, Sean Curran and Bradley New have secured prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarships (NCP) for 2018, enabling them to advance their knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region and build relationships with neighbouring countries by studying, working and living in the area.
Applicants presented a written application addressing selection criteria to Curtin, then a handful of shortlisted candidates took part in an interview in Canberra. Our students were among a pool of 120 scholars awarded a scholarship from 33 universities across Australia.
The scholarship financially supports undergrads in 40 locations and is open to 18-25 year olds’ studying at Australian universities. Students are given the opportunity to build connections with peers, engage in work experience and boost their employability in the graduate job market.
We heard from Matthew, Sean and Bradley about how the Careers, Employment & Leadership team played an important role in preparing them for the application process, what they did to stand out at application, and any advice for students looking to engage with the scholarship next year.
Bradley New | Faculty of Humanities
Area of study abroad: Creative arts studies at the City University of Hong Kong
I became aware of the scholarship upon receiving a Vice Chancellors Award; I was linked to the PRISM Alliance – an organisation created by the Vice Chancellors of the five universities in WA – which promotes prestigious scholarship opportunities to students. Through this opportunity I’m hoping to learn Mandarin or Cantonese to a high standard, and I’m also interested in connecting with other cultures to learn about human identity on a personal and collective level.
The application process involved an initial expression of interest to the University, then Curtin referred the top 10 applicants to the NCP team. To help me with this, I was in contact with the Scholarship Office and exchange staff, as well as a Career Development Officer who helped me edit and gave feedback on my final application before submission. All the advice I received was either firsthand or relatable experiences, or about how to satisfy the requirements of the NCP through building a good narrative.
My advice is definitely be true to yourself. This sounds cliché, and is pretty ambiguous, but in the most part I mean just to be yourself. During the interview stage in particular, I took a lot of comfort knowing that if I were to just be myself, everything would work out how it should. It would have really sucked to present myself as someone I wasn’t and then to have to continue to play that role.
Matthew Biletic | Faculty of Science and Engineering
Area of study abroad: Statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, modelling and design at Nanyang Technological University
I found out about the scholarship through the Scholarships Office Email Alert in 2015, and it immediately interested me. Given that I am a Physics and Electronic Engineering student, and my future ambition to become a leading developer of technology which betters the lives of all people without compromising the environment, I was particularly interested in an opportunity to engage with the Indo-Pacific region, specifically Singapore. I wanted to be positioned in a country that plays such an important role in technological development. It also acts a gateway to the entire region; Singapore is a melting pot for culture and business, so I want to immerse myself in that as much as possible.
I reached the scholarship’s interview stage in 2016 and fell short of the award, but tried again this year – I think that would have stood out to the assessing panel. I think they would have appreciated the amount of time that goes into the application and hence the determination it took for me to try again. This time around Curtin Careers, Employment & Leadership and the Scholarship Office assisted me; they helped me strengthen my case and describe my overarching vision to demonstrate how this fit with the NCP Scholarship. I wanted my application to be as understandable and clear as possible.
My advice for other students is to have a solid and well-considered plan for your scholarship program. While you don’t need to get too hung up on the small specifics, it is important to identify a suitable host country and university right away. You should select these based on what will work best for your personal vision, but also how they will benefit the scholarship program and Australia.
Mr Sean Curran | Faculty of Humanities
Area of study abroad: East Asian studies and Japanese politics at Waseda University
I became interested in applying for the scholarship after I had spent some time living in China. It became clear just how different life and culture is across Asia compared to Australia, and how little my studies had prepared me for engaging with this life and culture. I thought living, studying and interning abroad would be a great opportunity to gain firsthand, personal and emotional experiences. I am most excited for the chance to experience a new way of life with new challenges and opportunities, to get out of my comfort zone and try things I have never done before.
From my experience, it’s not a scholarship you can fake your way through; so I made sure I catered my university studies and extra-curricular activities to support my interest in the scholarship. I sought out relevant internship opportunities e.g. US Consulate Perth Internship Program, and focused my volunteering activities on Asia-focused programs e.g. Curtin CHAtS program which helps foreign language students with their English.
I would advise future applicants to think about what makes you stand out, why you should be the one to receive a scholarship and what your vision is for your program.Never talk yourself out of your application because you think you may be too young or too inexperienced. Ultimately, it comes down to writing your application in the appropriate language and keeping in mind what the selection team are looking for; so ask as many people as you can for advice and over time it will all come together.