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Crafting your scholarship application and finding your 'why' – advice from a Westpac Future Leader

What if we told you that you could receive financial support to study something you’re passionate about while also contributing to positive social change? With the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship, you can. Just ask Tiana Caccetta, she was awarded the scholarship earlier this year and now she’s doing just that.

Tiana’s one of 17 people in Australia who were awarded Westpac Future Leaders Scholarships in 2022, and she’s shared her advice for others thinking about applying. For her, one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the scholarship application was taking the time for introspection to really understand her ‘why’. 

She graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours), majoring in Psychology at UWA and then took a gap year to think about her career goals. During this time, she reflected on her love for research and how it can be integrated with clinical practice to help people.

She also reflected on her experiences working within the autism community, which highlighted that there is a huge amount of talent and potential that is not being tapped into. Now, she’ll be undertaking a PhD focusing on the unique anxiety experiences of autistic adults with the aim to raise the voices of the autism community.

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Tiana shared how she found her ‘why’ when applying for the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship.

“I will be completely honest – I was not clear on my ‘why’ when I started the application process for the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship. Of course, I had a vision of my future in the context of my career as well as my vision for the greater community, but my ‘why’ remained a little murky,” she explains.

"The single most important piece of advice I could give, would be to start the written application early and take the time to really immerse yourself and reflect on the questions. Personally, I found the application process to be quite challenging and extremely reflective. Through my journey of completing the written application and using the questions as prompts for introspection – I found greater clarity for my ‘why’."

“My ‘why’ was always there but I think without spending the time reflecting on the questions being asked, I would not have been as clear about my personal connection to my PhD project nor how my passion and vision can fit into the ‘bigger context’. The application process itself, really challenged me to think deeper about where my passion stems from but also to think about how I can use this to make a bigger impact.”

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Tiana’s ‘why’ was influenced by those around her, especially the people she met on her study and career journey. 

“Another aspect that really helped me connect with my ‘why’, was having discussions with people around me. Whether that be my family, friends, university staff, others working in my field or just other like-minded individuals. By having these casual conversations about my postgraduate study plan and the bigger systematic changes I want to help facilitate for our community, I was able to get input from those around me with varying degrees of knowledge and/or emotional connection to my area of interest. They tended to ask me questions and prompted me to further introspect not only about the practicalities of my vision, but also on my emotional connection and passion towards my vision – in other words my ‘why’,” she says.

“I think we all have a ‘why’ but, at least in my experience, it can be somewhat unconscious. So, it is important to bring the unconscious to the surface and for me, this was only made possible by using both the application itself and discussions with those in my life as prompts for reflection. Though a challenging and at times tedious process, I am much more understanding of my driver (or ‘why’) and of myself.”

We believe you’re capable of creating positive change in Australia – and potentially the world. Ready to take the next step in your journey? Apply now for the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship.

Applications are now open and close 6 September 2023.


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