Scholarship aims to inspire students to make a positive change in the world

Former All Saints’ College, Maitland student, Marli Wright is about to embark on  a transformational journey after being awarded a Ma and Morley Scholarship in the Indigenous category.

The Ma and Morley Scholarship is a revolutionary program offered to students of the University of Newcastle. It aims to inspire and educate students to be responsible, courageous and socially conscious leaders who want to make a change in the world, by providing recipients with life changing experiences and friendships.

The scholarship program was founded by Jack Ma, who was inspired to ‘give back’ to the local community after he formed a close friendship with Novocastrian, Ken Morley. The pair became lifelong friends after Ken and his family visited Jack’s hometown of Hangzhou in China as part of a tour with the Australia-China Friendship Society. Ken became a mentor to Jack who eventually achieved outstanding business success and after Mr Morley’s passing in 2004, Jack made a US$20 million philanthropic commitment to the University of Newcastle. With the scholarship program Jack hopes future generations of young people, from diverse backgrounds, will find positive influences just as he did, and so drive constructive changes in our world. The application process is designed to ensure a variety of students have a fair opportunity to access this life changing experience by providing specific submission categories such as: ‘Academic Excellence’, ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Educational Disadvantage’. Half of the scholarships in each category will be allocated to students who have completed a University of Newcastle enabling pathway like Newstep, Yapug and Open Foundation.

Though many people told her how competitive applications for the scholarship were, Marli was determined to apply. 

“People told me to keep applying for other scholarships because this one is hard to get. So I wanted to prove that, as an Indigenous woman, I would be able to receive this,” said Marli.

The program provides 20 different scholarships for new university students and 10 immersion experiences for continuing students. The scholarships not only provide financial assistance but also give recipients access to an enrichment program, mentoring sessions and opportunities to interact with other scholars.

“Our first camp provides an opportunity to meet the other scholars and start to build friendships. We also find out about what will happen for the rest of the year and the dates for our China trip in June where we will get to meet Jack Ma.” 

With the help of this scholarship, Marli is now working towards her dream of helping children achieve their dreams.

“I have always wanted to help people and study psychological science, as I’m so fascinated by human behaviour and what makes individuals act a certain way,” said Marli.

“This course is very long and very expensive and without the opportunity and financial support of the scholarship, I simply would not have been able to study. This scholarship has also provided me with the motivation to complete this course and begin helping within the community.

“In the future after completing my university degree I hope to specialise in child psychology, which I then want to move to Indigenous communities. As mental health, addiction and many other issues continue to rise, it means that people like me are needed to help out.

“I want to help continue closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and show young Indigenous children that they can achieve something like me and build a future for themselves.

“This scholarship will help me towards this major goal.”

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