From hospital bed to foster-care case work: Kat's story

24 May 2013

For new BSW graduate Kat de Jong, her commencement ceremony in the Great Hall would have seemed an a remote possibility three years ago when she was diagnosed with a mixed connective tissue disease, in the third year of her degree.

In 2010, the Bachelor of Social Work research honours student was admitted to hospital for three months, forcing her to suspend her studies. Soon after, her father died, and Kat began her struggle to recover emotionally and physically.

Returning to her studies, but with lingering severe arthritic pain and greatly decreased strength and energy, Kat found that even basic day-to-day student activities, for example, visiting the library in search of textbooks, were major challenges.

The assistance provided by the Walter and Eliza Hall Trust Scholarship helped with the costs of her fourth year of study and had a profound impact, reducing her financial burden and allowing her to focus on her studies. Kat graduated this year and recently took up a role as a foster care caseworker in Goulburn.

The scholarship Kat won is just one example where philanthropy has made a tangible difference to the life of a student and the broader work of the faculty.

Earlier this month the University launched Inspired – the campaign to support the University of Sydney, its first comprehensive fundraising campaign, with the aim of raising $600 million from 40,000 donors over the coming decade.