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Inaugural Elite Athlete Scholarship awarded

Elite Athletes.
Inaugural Elite Athlete Scholarship awarded

Four student-athletes who have set out to conquer their dreams have been rewarded for their efforts on and off the field.

The University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) recognises the added pressure of combining elite sports with an academic workload.

In response, the University has launched a new scholarship to help ease the financial burden for student elite athletes.

The inaugural recipients of the $5000 Elite Athlete Scholarship were rugby league player Shenae Ciesiolka, sprinter Jai Gordon, softballer Lincoln Walk and professional footballer Dylan Wenzel-Halls.

UniSQ Director of Support for Learning Dr Ali Jaquet congratulated all four recipients.

“We are very excited to award these inaugural Elite Athlete Scholarships to this deserving group of students,” Dr Jaquet said.

“Our students, like many others, are facing significant financial burdens at this time, and we hope these scholarships will assist these impressive athletes who are balancing sporting commitments with their education.

“The UniSQ community should feel very proud to see these student-athletes representing their state and country on the national and world stage. They have distinguished themselves with their commitment to excellence in sport and education.

“Congratulations and best wishes to our scholarship recipients for their continued success as elite athletes and dedicated learners.”

Shenae Ciesiolka plays for the Brisbane Broncos in the National Rugby League Women's (NRLW) Premiership and has represented the Australian Jillaroos and Queensland Maroons. Currently studying a Bachelor of Education Secondary, Ciesiolka was named NRLW Academic Player of the Year in 2023.

  • “I’m truly honoured and privileged to be among the four recipients of this award, and I extend my sincere gratitude to the University for their unwavering support throughout my studies. The scholarship will significantly support my athletic and academic endeavours, especially considering the challenges of balancing work, study, and sports.”

Jai Gordon is an Australian 100m sprinter with the 2024 Paris Olympics in his sights. Last year, he was crowned the Australian U20 100m champion after running a personal best time of 10.28sec. He’s enrolled in a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology. 

  • “I’m fortunate to have been named one of the four inaugural University of Southern Queensland Elite Athlete scholarship recipients. This scholarship will help me travel and compete worldwide to reach my goals while continuing to study.”

Lincoln Walk is a world-conquering softball player who helped Australia claim gold at last year's U23 Men's Softball World Cup. He’s entering his third year of study towards a Bachelor of Paramedicine.

  • “I am very appreciative of this scholarship. This is my first time being recognised and financially assisted in my sport. The scholarship will allow me to participate in more tournaments and less strain on my Uni-related stress.”

Dylan Wenzel-Halls is a two-time A-League Men’s champion currently playing for the Central Coast Mariners. He is studying for a Bachelor of Business and Commerce.

  • “I am proud and honoured to represent the University of Southern Queensland and to be named alongside great like-minded athletes within the Elite Athlete Program. This allows me to study flexibly and have access to dedicated and supportive professionals to guide and help me through my studies for my career after my football.”

UniSQ is part of the Australian Institute of Sport's Elite Athlete Education Network, offering specialised support services through its Elite Athlete Program for students balancing sports and studies.

As well as having access to a range of support and academic services, students who become registered elite athletes are eligible to apply for the Elite Athlete Scholarship.