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Courtney Yeandle wins inaugural Meg Purser Scholarship

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Aspiring journalist Courtney Yeandle is all smiles after being named as the inaugural recipient of the Meg Purser Scholarship.

The second year communications student secured the $5,000 grant after displaying a passion to make a positive impact in the community.

The scholarship, initiated by City of Newcastle, honours the memory of one of Newcastle’s most prominent businesswomen, Meg Purser, who sadly passed away in January 2021 following an 18-month battle with breast cancer.

The popular professional is also remembered for her charitable and behind-the-scenes work for organisations such as the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, Hunter Breast Screen and Got Your Back Sista.

She invested considerable time in mentoring young people, too.

“Meg’s story really inspired me and I would love to be able to use my degree to make an equally positive impact on my community,” Ms Yeandle said.

“I aspire to become a journalist working in news media where I can inform and educate the public on important issues, igniting conversation and, hopefully, inspiring change. 

“I hope that during my study and in my professional life I can act as a positive ambassador and give back to the City of Newcastle and the University of Newcastle.”  

Ms Yeandle relocated from Sydney to undertake a Bachelor of Communication in the School of Humanities, Creative Industries, and Social Sciences at the University of Newcastle.

She said the scholarship would ease the financial burden of living away from home, allowing her to concentrate her efforts on pursuing her dream to become a journalist. 

“Studying communication at the University of Newcastle offers me many opportunities for professional and personal success,” she explained.

“I’m so appreciative to City of Newcastle for this scholarship.”

Council established the scholarship with the blessing of Meg’s father Bob Purser, a former journalist and communicator, to recognise his daughter’s passion for the many local community organisations and charities she supported. 

“Meg took great pleasure and pride in helping young people develop into talented communicators,” he said.

“This link between one of her most valued clients and the university from which she graduated would have made her very proud as it does her family.”

The Meg Purser Scholarship was supported by councillors in 2021 to provide $5,000 to an undergraduate student completing the second year of their communications degree at the University of Newcastle.

A new recipient will be named in 2023 and 2024, under the initial funding arrangement. 

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle was pleased to see the scholarship awarded to a recipient who embodies the community spirit that was shown by the late Meg Purser.  

“This will go a long way to supporting the talent and drive shown in Courtney, who is studying communications with the aim of supporting the media’s power to impact audiences and inspire action and improvement towards positive change,” she explained.

“Courtney’s aspirations are reminiscent of the positive influence Meg had on the local community by using her communication skills to support local initiatives and causes.  

“I’d like to congratulate her on being the first University of Newcastle student to be awarded the Meg Purser Scholarship.

“We look forward to watching her communications career progress, as well as witness her positive contribution to her community.”

Pro-Vice Chancellor of the College of Human and Social Futures at the University of Newcastle Professor John Fischetti welcomed the contribution from City of Newcastle.

“The scholarship will make a huge difference in the lives of students over the coming years,” he said.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support from the City of Newcastle in helping our students to pursue their potential and achieve their dreams.”

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