As part of National Volunteer Week, this week The University of Western Australia is celebrating staff and students who are making a significant difference in the community through volunteering.
National Volunteer Week is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteers. Every year nearly six million volunteers Australia-wide dedicate more than 600 million hours to helping others.
Many UWA staff and students are part of this national effort, giving up their time to support the community, through charities and important causes.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma praised the efforts of UWA volunteers whose selfless work contributes to the community in wide-ranging ways.
“It takes a very special person with integrity to volunteer; giving up time outside their own commitments for the greater good of others,” Professor Chakma said.
“We are delighted this week to acknowledge staff and students who are making an important difference.
“UWA encourages students to volunteer, providing opportunities for them to complement their studies. Volunteering is a great way for our students to develop professionally and gain invaluable experience, preparing them for employment and jobs of the future.”
Those who have shared their volunteer experiences and drive to make a difference in the community include UWA Manager of Student Equity and STEM advocate Tara Broadhurst and UWA Bachelor of Biomedical Science student Stephanie Lurssen.
UWA STEM advocate and Manager of Student Equity Tara Broadhurst
Tara Broadhurst is passionate about volunteering and inspiring the next generation of young women to consider a career in STEM.
The Student Equity Manager works on programs that provide broad-based outreach and an admission entry pathway for students with high potential but limited means and opportunity to attain a tertiary education.
In her spare time, Ms Broadhurst volunteers at The Innovators Tea Party, a charity she established with fellow colleagues. The charity connects with female high school students and provides them with mentoring and support to pursue their aspirations of a career in STEM.
Ms Broadhurst said volunteering was an important way to give back to society, and invest time for the common good to make the world a better place.
“STEM unfortunately still lacks female participation. I think volunteering is a really important way to address this - by connecting successful female scientists, engineers and innovators with high-school students we can break down the barriers that prevent girls from pursing STEM careers,” she said.
UWA Bachelor of Biomedical Science student Stephanie Lurssen
For science student Stephanie Lurssen, helping others less fortunate gain access to a tertiary education is something that inspires her.
Ms Lurssen volunteers at Ignite Mentoring, a student run not-for-profit organisation that delivers mentoring programs to high school students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
“I was lucky enough to go to a good school where I felt really supported and encouraged to pursue opportunities,” Ms Lurssen said.
“But it’s not like that for everyone. There are still gaps and inequalities in education and I think it’s important we close those gaps,” she said.
“Volunteering is definitely the best thing I’ve decided to do at uni. One of the most rewarding parts is seeing the positive impact you can make by helping students aspire to a tertiary education.”