Growing up in Manilla, in northwest NSW, William Freestone sustained a dream of becoming a medical doctor that was rewarded in Year 12 with the Una May Smith Aboriginal Scholarship for outstanding senior secondary student.
The scholarship presented a path into Biomedical Science at the University of New England, but Will needed financial backing. He found it in the Max Schroder UNE Scholarship.
“The scholarship covers accommodation and study for four years. It allows me to concentrate on my studies – which is pretty full on – without having to worry about finances,” Will said.
“Without Max’s generosity I wouldn’t be here at UNE and I definitely wouldn’t able to study medicine.”
Will, together with other Max Schroder Scholarship recipients, had the opportunity to meet the philanthropist and UNE alumnus at a special event last week.
The event saw Vice-Chancellor Professor Annabelle Duncan present Mr Schroder with the Business/Higher Education Round Table (B/HERT) award for Outstanding Philanthropy he won in November 2016 but was unable to collect in person.
Mr Schroder was honoured by the recognition but at the same time matter of fact about his philanthropy.
“I support disadvantaged groups, such as Indigenous students, because I myself received support when I first entered higher education. I’m in a position to offer others the same opportunities I enjoyed; nobody else is going to do it and it comes naturally to me,” he said.
Prof. Duncan said UNE shared a special vision with Max.
“We want to close the education gap evident between the general population and Indigenous Australia today. We firmly believe that education is the key to improving not only a person’s own life but also the lives of those around them,” Prof. Duncan said.
“I also cannot think of a more deserving candidate for the award than Max and we are very grateful for his ongoing commitment to our students. I hope our relationship with him continues to strengthen in years to come.”
Will is one of two Indigenous students studying Medicine at UNE with the help of a Max Schroder Scholarship and plans to return to the region to practise once he has graduated.
He entered UNE through a bridging course which enabled him to enter UNE’s Joint Medical Program.
“I’m the first in my family to study at university and they are very proud of me,” Will said.