Since 2010, 10 first-year dentistry students from regional New South Wales have benefitted from a scholarship funded by retiring New South Wales National Party Senator John Williams.
When Senator Williams established the scholarship in 2010 he said: “I hope in some small way this scholarship will eventually assist a country community.”
He was driven to set up the scholarship in response to the shortage of oral health specialists in rural, regional and remote areas, compared to the numbers in cities.
The one-year scholarship had a value of $4,800 and was awarded annually to a student from regional New South Wales who was commencing dentistry studies at university. In addition to financial support, scholarship holders had the opportunity to be mentored by a rural dentist.
Over the life of the scholarship rural dentists Chris Cole, Stuart Watkins and Richard Wise supported the scholarship holders as mentors.
The scholarship’s financial and mentoring support did much to set up the recipients for a successful university experience and a future career as a rural dentist.
Olivia Jom (2010) said, “Senator John Williams’ generous contribution to my studies … enabled me to soar through my first year at university with peace of mind, confidence and a constant network of support.”
Jessica Powell (2011) said, “The Scholarship helped fund vital learning materials [and] Dr Chris Cole has been a very supportive and knowledgeable mentor throughout this year.”
Amelia Judson (2013) said, “I would like to thank Senator Williams for creating this scholarship. It’s people like him who are making real change for rural Australia. This scholarship makes it possible for rural people like myself to study dentistry due to the high up-front costs of the degree. After almost a decade of drought, this scholarship came as a blessing.”
Jarrod Brice (2014) said, “I also received the mentorship of Dr Chris Cole, who supported me throughout the year and provided connections to local practitioners near my home town of Euston, where I was lucky enough to shadow a dentist.”
Matthew McGreal (2015) reported, “Upon completing the year I phoned Senator Williams to say thank you and mention how grateful I was for his scholarship and how it helped mef and my family…. Even though I caught Senator Williams off guard as he was in a paddock fencing he remembered me personally and we had a great chat.
“I left full-time employment in banking to pursue a career in dentistry, which was a bold move as I have a wife and two kids to support. This scholarship provided enormous financial support for our family.”
Leazelle Graham (2016) said, “In my offer letter there was a recommendation to join Sydney University’s MIRAGE Rural Health Club. Because of this I not only became a member but also became part of the committee as Junior Dentistry Representative.”
Ghazan Yousafzai (2018) said, “The aid of the NSW Regional Dentistry Scholarship made my first-year dentistry experience that much more enjoyable and helped alleviate any stress associated with financial concerns.”
The National Rural Health Alliance was privileged to administer the scholarship on behalf of Senator Williams. We acknowledge Senator Williams’ unstinting support and advocacy for the health and wellbeing of rural Australians during his time in the Federal Parliament and wish him well for the future after his retirement from the Senate.
NSW Regional Dentistry Scholarship recipients
2018 – Ghazan Yousafzai, enrolled in Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours), University of Queensland
2017 - Casey Hogben from Parkes, enrolled in Bachelor of Dental Science, Charles Sturt University
2016 - Leazelle Graham from Wellington, enrolled in Doctor of Dental Medicine, University of Sydney
2016 - Melissa Stevens from Dubbo, enrolled in Bachelor of Health Sciences in Dentistry / Master of Dentistry, La Trobe University
2015 - Mathew McGreal from Orange, enrolled in Bachelor of Dental Science, Charles Sturt University
2014 - Jarrod Brice from Euston, enrolled in Bachelor of Dental Surgery, University of Adelaide
2013 - Amelia Judson from Bogan Gate, enrolled in the Bachelor of Dental Science, Charles Sturt University
2012 - Alayne White from Cowra, enrolled in Bachelor of Dental Science, Charles Sturt University, Orange
2011 - Jessica Powell from Tamworth, enrolled in Bachelor of Dental Science, Charles Sturt University
2010 - Olivia Jom, from Albury, enrolled in Bachelor of Health Sciences in Dentistry, La Trobe University Bendigo