'This bursary gave me a chance to earn the degree that I always dreamed of. Saying ‘thank you’ does not justify the contribution that Garden City Zonta Club have made in my life.'
- Sharanjit Kaur Dhaliwal, Bachelor of Nursing graduate and Professor Ronel Erwee Garden City Zonta Club Bursary recipient
In late 2021, Sharanjit Kaur Dhaliwal – known as Sharan – graduated from the University of Southern Queensland with a Bachelor of Nursing. It was a culmination of three years of wonderful highs, and incredible lows, as an international student in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Being a nursing student, the study load was high but as an international student, it proved to be even more challenging,” Sharan said.
“When I started my nursing in February 2019, I was fully dependent on my parents back home in India to pay my tertiary fees, but I was also working in the beauty industry to manage my daily expenses.”
When Covid hit in early 2020, just 12 months into Sharan’s degree, the financial impact was immediate.
“The whole world shut down and I ended up losing my job. My parents were struggling to pay my fees also as Covid was really bad in India, but I had to ask them for help to pay my rent and food as well,” she remembered.
“I was feeling like I would not be able to finish my degree, so I applied for a scholarship, hoping to get some help. When I got the email telling me that I had been selected for the Professor Ronel Erwee Toowoomba Garden City Zonta Club Bursary, it was a lifesaving moment for me.
“This bursary not only allowed me to dedicate more time to my studies, and get my degree as soon as possible, but it also made me feel like a valued part of society.”
Sharan, who is now working full-time as a nurse in South Australia, said she hopes to follow in the footsteps of her supporters, and give back to others in the future.
President of Toowoomba Garden City Zonta Club, Wendy Roche, said the Professor Ronel Erwee Bursary was extremely important to the club and members were always committed to fundraising for the donation to the University of Southern Queensland.
"The funds make an enormous difference in the lives of the students we have helped, and we know this as we have received letters of thanks as well as visits to our club meetings from bursary students,” she said.
"They have spoken about being able to purchase textbooks or pay fees that they would not have been able to do without the bursary, that then helps them to graduate and start their careers making a difference to our community in healthcare and other professions.
"We're delighted to contribute and believe the bursary is like a `seeding grant' that gives blossom to future careers, women's leadership opportunities and advances in female-led research," she said.