“To infinity and beyond!”
Those immortal words by animated cosmic hero, Buzz Lightyear, in Disney’s unforgettable Toy Story franchise, could be the mantra for Eurobodalla teenager Campbell Allison.
Campbell has embarked on a STEM career in avionics engineering and has visions of joining the newly formed Australian Space Agency when he graduates from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – an integrated educational curriculum that aims to reverse a decline in innovation and critical thinking to produce real-world solutions to everyday problems.
And that’s what drives 19-year-old Campbell.
“I want to be able to say to myself that what I have done with my career has either expanded human knowledge or has benefited the lives of ordinary people. Whether that involves great impacts or smaller ones, I’d be happy either way,” the former Narooma High School Captain explains.
Campbell would not have been able to pursue such an exciting career without the help of Southern Phone.
The Moruya-based, national telecommunications company was formed in 2002 to deliver more affordable services to regional communities. It’s owned by 35 local councils including Bega Valley, Queanbeyan-Palarang, Eurobodalla, Yass and Snowy Monaro.
Since 2017, Southern Phone has provided $2000 to graduating Year 12 students in Eurobodalla and Bendigo embarking on a STEM career.
David Joss Managing Director of Southern Phone says supporting the education of regional students helps future proof country communities.
“We are passionate about the development of young people in technology disciplines and creating new opportunities for industries, ” Mr Joss says.
“The federal government have said that in the next decade, 75 per cent of all jobs will need skills in science and Southern Phone are doing their part.
“Our scholarship program is in its third year rewarding academic excellence and providing assistance with costs related to tertiary studies to nine schools we have partnered with.
“Since 2017 our STEM Scholarship has assisted 12 students with their tertiary studies and will award a further nine scholarships this year,” Mr Joss says.
Campbell says he would’ve been lost without the financial support. As a country kid moving to the big smoke, he says the scholarship helped him to access accommodation close to campus.
“The STEM scholarship helped secure my accommodation and made me feel safer and less stressed about all my living expenses,” Campbell says.
“Some may not think of it as anything more than a financial boost but it meant a lot to me knowing that Southern Phone had enough faith in my abilities and future to support me in joining the next generation of engineers.”
Financial management was not the only challenge Campbell faced moving 1300 km away from home.
“Some of the toughest challenges that I had to face mainly revolved around transitioning to a faster and more independent style of learning,” he says.
“In moving to the centre of Brisbane from a rural area, I have experienced the bustling liveliness as isolating anonymity – being around so many people yet knowing nobody.”
It’s a test that countless rural students face when they leave their secure nest, protected by family and friends.
Quite the philosopher, Campbell also credits his Narooma High teachers.
“Personally, I believe being a high school student in a regional area can limit some of your educational opportunities. Being so far away from education paths available in cities means that students who want to pursue their goals might have to work harder to reach these goals and possibly take the leap to step away from what they know if they want to be successful.”
And leap he will – one day, he’d like to have children who say “My dad did something to make the world a better place to live in.”
HSC students wanting to enroll in a STEM degree in 2020 maybe eligible for a Southern Phone Scholarship. Information and application forms can be found HERE. Applications close on October 31, 2019.
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