Rising above life's burdens — scholarship lifts Kate to success

Donor-funded scholarships transform lives. Kate’s dream of becoming an engineer depended on it. 

While building stick bridges over a creek in her backyard as a child, Kate Heliotis realised a career in engineering would be perfect for her. However, a difficult and sometimes violent home life almost destroyed this aspiration.

Having since graduated from UQ and secured her dream job in structural engineering, she remembers when the belief and support of others – including school teachers, a pastor, UQ mentors, and donors – were offered when she needed them most.

“As a teenager there were very dark days, and even my teachers were concerned about my home life,” Ms Heliotis remembered

“I was conditioned to believe I wasn’t smart enough to succeed, and that education and my personal dreams just did not matter.”

The torment of a difficult home life and a strong sense of moral obligation to family duty were barriers to finding self-worth and believing she could ever be happy. 

“When I received my letter of offer to study engineering at UQ, I was blown away, but I still had a huge fear of failing."

Ms Heliotis credits a second year scholarship, funded by a UQ donor, with changing her life – encouraging self-belief and providing financial support to focus on study, research and, volunteering, and to participate in study tours.

“In my first semester I managed to achieve a Dean’s Commendation for Academic Excellence and was instilled with this new energy and focus. I was proud of what I could achieve on my own,” she said.

“Knowing that donor support was there motivated me to excel at my studies. Being considered for a scholarship offered countless opportunities, and now as a graduate I mentor students and want to give back to those who, like me, don’t know their potential and what they can achieve.

“Donors have the opportunity to make a huge difference in students’ lives. We might be one step away from discovering the next big thing and that comes from partnering together and supporting students to succeed.”