A transformative scholarship

I was truly honoured to ring the Tuckwell bell for the first time at our Commencement Dinner.

In 2013, Graham and Louise Tuckwell gave the largest ever donation to an Australian university when they started the $50 million Tuckwell Scholarship Program to find Australia’s future leaders.

For Matthew Jacob, this scholarship has been a better experience than he had ever imagined.

"Moving out of home and living at college has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life. Going from six years at an all-boys private school to a co-educational university speaks for itself," he says.

"Despite leaving Sydney with promises to call home each week and visit whenever possible, I found myself anywhere but home during the year. Using university debating as a convenient foil for elaborate travel plans, in 2014 I managed to tick-off Melbourne, New Zealand and Malaysia.

"While at times the Tuckwell name often felt like it came with strings attached and expectations, I will never forget a humorous comment I received in my first week at ANU. Following a rather eventful evening, a (soon-to-be) college friend quipped to me the next morning; “I never would have thought you were a Tuckwell.” If anything, this flippant jibe reminded me that we were ordinary students who have been gifted the most incredible opportunity."

The centrepiece of the Commencement Dinner each year is the ringing of the Tuckwell Bell. Matthew had the chance to ring the bell, after being elected by his peers.

"I use the word ‘elected’ fairly loosely here as the process itself was far from democratic. Upon reflection, it more closely resembled an organised campaign to throw me under the proverbial bus," he says.

"Yet, despite the circumstances of my election, I was truly honoured to ring the bell for the first time at our Commencement Dinner. After cutting my hand on the edge of the bell, I would strongly encourage future Bell Ringers to sneak in some practice before the event.

"Our group of 25 is the most diverse group of extraordinary students. While at times the science students attempted to hijack discussions with jargon and scientific complexities, our regular meetings were always engaging and were a definite highlight of the year.

"It is safe to say the program has come a long way in a very short time."