STAR Members

The Scholarship Team for Advice and Review (STAR) is a group of scholarship recipients and alumni that assist Western Chances to achieve its strategic goal of ensuring the organisation remains relevant to young people.

Julia Truong (Chair)

Western Chances has supported Julia Truong’s education and career pathway since 2008 by providing scholarships and personal and professional development opportunities. Despite enduring financial hardship, Julia has been focused and ambitious in relation to achieving her goals and dreams.

Julia completed her Bachelor of Production at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in 2013, majoring in Production and Stage Management for theatre events. During this time, she worked on various productions around Melbourne, including a placement in the production of King Kong the Musical.

Since graduating, Julia has founded her own event management company, JT. Production Management.

From 2010 to 2012, Julia worked part-time in the Western Chances office as part of the Western Chances Links Program, helping in a variety of areas from administration to organising events. Western Chances now employs Julia to manage several events including the Scholarship Award Ceremony and the Good Business Forum.

In 2016 Julia joined the Multicultural Business Ministerial Council, an advisory body to the Victorian State Government that provides important input from the perspective of culturally and linguistically diverse business communities.In 2016 Julia also won AustralianSuper Career Kick Start Award as part of the Victorian Young Achiever Awards.

In 2017 Julia celebrated a milestone 10 years since she ran her first event. She now employs a team of 10 people and has created a strong portfolio of projects and events.Throughout 2018 and 2019, Julia's business has continued to thrive and the JTPM team are running events all over the country. Julia was the inaugural Young Ambassador and has officilly transitioned to become our first ever Ambassador. We look forward to appointing a new Young Ambassador in the future.

Abraham Nyieth

Abraham arrived in Australia from Sudan in 2008. He received his first scholarship in 2009 when he was in Year 11 at Copperfield College, and received six scholarships in total. After completing VCE Abraham went to RMIT to study a Bachelor of Social Work, graduating in 2015. He has been an active youth and community leader working with his church, the Salvation Army, Migrant Information Centre and Jesuit Social Services. He is currently employed as a Learning Support Officer at St Dominic’s Primary School and is undertaking part time study in a Master of Property at RMIT and a Master of Mental Health Practice at the University of New England online.

Jenny Pham Vo

Jenny was in Year 10 at Copperfield College when she received her first Western Chances scholarship. She was supported with scholarships for four years, deciding after her first year at university that she was able to fund her own educational expenses. Since completing her Bachelor of Communications - Media at RMIT University, she hopes to work within the Australian film and TV industry, and has formed a video production company with her talented graduating peers called Nine Tales Studios.

Jessica Bonello

Jessica attended Copperfield College and was nominated for her first scholarship in 2009, when she was in Year 11. She progressed to Victoria University where she studied her dream course, a Bachelor of Nursing, receiving her final scholarship in the year of her graduation, 2014. She then gained a position at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), a place she spent considerable time in as a patient throughout her childhood and somewhere she had always wanted to work. Jessica is still at the RCH working as an Associate Nurse Unit Manager in the Day Oncology Unit and a Research Nurse In the Clinical Trials Unit. She also recently completed her Graduate Certificate in Nursing Practice (Cancer & Palliative Care) at the University of Melbourne.

Katherine Tan

Katherine is a Western Chances Alumni and received her first scholarship in 2004 when she was in year 9 at The Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School. She received nine scholarships which assisted her to achieve outstanding grades in high school and graduate from Monash University with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree. Katherine is currently working as doctor in the public mental health system. She is in her third year of training to specialise as a psychiatrist and in the final year of completing a Masters of Psychiatry. Katherine is involved in medical student teaching and mentoring. She is passionate about mental health and addressing social inequalities through education and opportunities.

Leesa Ward

Leesa Ward is a Western Chances alumna, having received her first scholarship for her year 12 VET Multimedia studies, and renewal scholarships through her TAFE studies in graphic arts, multimedia and information technology. While studying at TAFE Leesa started her freelance business, Double-E Design, and during her second year of her Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Digital Media), she got her first regular job as a web developer.  Leesa graduated from Swinburne in 2014 and has continued to work as a developer and run her own business doing both web development and graphic design, also completing an Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design and now working on her Bachelor of Information Technology (Programming) at Deakin. Double-E Design will turn 10 in October 2019.

Melissa Garwood

Melissa received her first Western Chances scholarship in 2004 while a student at Taylors Lakes Secondary College. She was awarded 11 scholarships in total. Melissa completed VCE in 2008 and graduated from her Bachelor of Biomedicine with Honours at the University of Melbourne in 2012. After eight years of hard work and commitment to her tertiary studies in 2016 Melissa completed her final year of the Doctor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne. She worked part time at Woolworths to support herself during this time. She is currently working as a resident at Western Health and often comes to visit us at Western Chances.

Thao Ly

Thao was in Year 10 at Gilmore College for Girls when she received the first of six Western Chances scholarships. She was dux of her high school and completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance) at The University of Melbourne. Throughout university, she was a cadet at the Australian Taxation Office as well as working as a tutor. In her final year of study, Thao secured a graduate position with a major accounting firm where she is building a successful career and is a mentoring to a current scholarship recipient who is an intern at her firm. Thao is also a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. 

Victor Le

Victor attended Kurunjang Secondary in Melton and received his first Western Chances scholarship in 2008 when he was in Year 12. He furthered his education at Victoria University in Footscray and was nominated for a Western Chances/Victoria University Access scholarship which he received for the duration of his tertiary study. Victor completed two Diplomas and two Advanced Diplomas in I.T

Vu Long Tran

Long received his first scholarship in 2012 when he was in year 9 at Melbourne High School. He was supported until 2018 when he graduated from a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Finance & Marketing at The University of Melbourne. He has now gone on to start as a Generalist Graduate at Jetstar in their head office.
Staying true to his passions, he spent his time at university volunteering with various organisations and continues to do so to this day. He was able to pursue his passion in community development through supporting the Vietnamese Community of Australia, The Dual Identity Leadership Program and The Red Cross with community & youth development projects. Working with the Doxa organisation and Trinity College allowed him to pursue his passion in youth empowerment on their various programs. Long volunteered as both a mentor and facilitator on the multiple camp and workshop programs ran by the two organisations to support and develop disadvantaged high school students.
Future wise, Long hopes to play a bigger role in supporting and giving back to the Western chances community that has done so much to support him and other students during their education.

Katharine Nikolic

Katharine received her first Western Chances scholarship when she was in Year 11 at Sunshine College. While at school, she attended the Trinity College Young Leaders Program, which was her first learning experience at The University of Melbourne.  
Katharine completed a Bachelor of Arts (International relations & media and communications) at The University of Melbourne in 2017.
Currently enrolled in a Masters of International Relations at Melbourne, Katharine is particularly interested in the study of civil wars and migration, and hopes to eventually work in public policy.

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