From rural NSW to the US Department of State: Rebecca Martin talks about the scholarship that changed her life.
Being accepted into a great university is the ambition of most teenagers, but for Rebecca Martin, it was the ticket to a happier life. A difficult upbringing following her father’s death in her early teens meant Rebecca was intent on a fresh start. ‘Growing up in Orange [in rural NSW], I wanted to attend the best university I could get in to,’ she remembers.
Rebecca, a keen student, ended up with multiple university offers and passed up a New South Wales-based scholarship to instead attend Trinity College in Melbourne, because it ‘felt so much more than a place to live.’
She originally joined on a partial scholarship to study law, but Trinity then helped Rebecca to find a donor to cover all of her university-related expenses, including accommodation. For Rebecca, this offer was far beyond her expectations. ‘The scholarship gave me so much more than I was hoping for,’ she says.
While studying law, Rebecca’s eyes were opened to a range of alternative career options. ‘Throughout my Trinity experience I explored many new interests,’ she says. ‘I made friends with engineers. I just didn’t have those kinds of opportunities in Orange.’
The most notable opportunity was Rebecca’s involvement in ‘Robogals’, a volunteer student group started by friends to encourage female students to get into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). That humble venture is now a fully-fledged not-for-profit organisation with 30 chapters in more than 10 countries. And while Rebecca is quick to point to her minor role in Robogals’ success, it has clearly influenced her career path.
It was while helping out with Robogals that Rebecca realised her passion for technology – a discovery she describes as an obstacle. ‘I realised I didn’t want to be a lawyer while on a law scholarship,’ she says. Nevertheless, Rebecca received pastoral care from Trinity during this time and was encouraged to find a degree that was the right fit for her. ‘Transferring to commerce was difficult, but the right thing to do,’ she admits, after deciding to change her degree.
After graduating, Rebecca went on to complete a Master of Applied Information Technology, and is now a technologist working in strategic products and developer evangelism at Melbourne-based Message Media. Her job takes her overseas a few times a year in addition to speaking events all around Australia. ‘I feel so lucky to have found a career niche that’s the intersection of all of my experiences,’ she says. Her career journey has also included partaking in an international leadership program sponsored by the US Department of State, where she was one of only 24 people from 24 countries to take part in a digital economy study tour across the United States.
Rebecca’s next goal is finishing her MBA and gaining more leadership experience, and she hopes to find work in the world of high-growth technology start-ups. Clearly on a steep and ambitious career trajectory, she stresses that none of this would have been possible without Trinity’s support. ‘A scholarship is a scholarship,’ she says. ‘But the real value of what I gained from Trinity was a community and a network. I met so many people doing incredible things.
‘Everyone I met [at Trinity] had an enormous impact on my life and I'm now in a position financially where I can donate. That’s all due to the start Trinity College gave me.’
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