Backing the next generation of rural leaders

17 February 2021

Rural inventor and philanthropist George Alexander AM described scholarships as "planting seeds and hoping they grow into pretty big trees".

Not having a tertiary education and growing up in regional Australia, George was aware of the barriers that many prospective students face to a quality education.

George set up the George Alexander Foundation in 1972 and it continues to support undergraduate scholarships at ANU. The Foundation aims to reduce some of the significant geographic barriers to tertiary education by "supporting community-minded leaders who need to relocate from rural, regional and remote areas of Australia to pursue their educational goals at the country's national university".

The current scholarship recipient, Simone De Nys, was excited and elated when she heard about her award. Growing up in Townsville in Northern Queensland, Simone always had an interest in international relations, languages and politics. The scholarship has supported her to move to Canberra to study a Bachelor of Arts & International Security Studies at ANU.

"I decided to pursue a degree that catered to all my interests," she said.

Simone is grateful for the opportunities her scholarship created. These included international study opportunities at Ritsumeikan university in Kyoto, Japan, and a semester exchange at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

"I was incredibly aware of the opportunities that were available to me during my time at ANU, like international scholarships; I knew that I did not have to be so worried about financial limitations when it came to taking advantage of these opportunities."

Simone believes in giving back to her university community, and is a member of the executive for the Rural, Remote and Regional Students' Society (RRRS), a social support network for ANU students.

She is keen to pursue a career related to her studies.

"My goals for the distant future are to work in the international relations community, through following a career path into organisations like the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or the United Nations."

Simone is grateful for the scholarship support she has received.

"I am infinitely grateful to The George Alexander Foundation for all of their help, support and understanding throughout my time at university."

This is an edited version of an article on The George Alexander Foundation website.

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