IWD 2020: Leah Zandonadi, Bursary Recipient

To mark 2020 International Women’s Day (#EachforEqual), NCWQ is profiling an impressive women each day in and around the 8th March. These featured young women are past NCWQ Bursary Recipients, and have demonstrated incredible leadership, success, community service, intelligence and commitment to their personal and professional passions. In today’s feature, past bursary recipient Leah Zandonadi shares her thoughts.

To learn more about the bursary program, keep an eye on our website in the coming month. 

  1. What were the benefits to you in being a 2019 NCWQ bursary recipient?

I was fortunate to be the recipient of the Quota International Centenary Bursary for Speech Pathology. This bursary has assisted me financially for travel and accommodation costs that are associated with my final year university placements.

2. What are your goals for this year?

My main goal for this year is to graduate university with a Bachelor of Speech Pathology! Within that big goal, one of my smaller goals is to be more confident as a clinician. I have set myself up well with the theory components of the course, but this final stretch is about putting that knowledge into practice. A goal for my personal life is to spend more time outdoors and with friends. I lost the work-life balance a bit last year unfortunately, but my housemates here on placement have kept me busy after work each day and on weekends by taking me to the hidden gems around the region I’m in. It’s something I definitely want to keep up when I am back from placement and can see my friends at home again!

3. What is your personal mantra or self-talk that you use to keep yourself on track in pursuing your aspirations?

My personal mantra is “don’t fake it until you make it; know so you can grow.” At this point in my life I would say that I am academically driven, so a lot of what I do is to help me in that aspect. It for sure hasn’t been an easy road to get to where I am, but this quote keeps me on track and reminds me that I will benefit from putting in the hard yards over the duration of this degree because I want to be the best speech pathologist I can be.

4. Who have been your most significant female role models?

This is a hard one! I would have to say that everyone that has been involved in my tertiary education has influenced me one way or another, in my current life and my future. More than 95% of speech pathologists in Australia are female, so there’s so many women to look up to! I have been taught by the same female lecturers (who are all qualified speech pathologists) since my first year of study, meaning they have been there every step of the way to support and mentor me. I love hearing their stories about their experiences in the workforce, because I hope to have those same big life-changing impacts on my clients in the future. My clinical educators and supervisors on external placements are always reminding me that they were once in my shoes. They have been incredible in helping me build confidence as a clinician and know that this is just the beginning of a great career. And of course, my mum is another significant female role model in my life for more reasons than I can list. 

IWD 2020: Jess Honan, Bursary Recipient

To mark 2020 International Women’s Day (#EachforEqual), NCWQ is profiling an impressive women each day in and around the 8th March. These featured young women are past NCWQ Bursary Recipients, and have demonstrated incredible leadership, success, community service, intelligence and commitment to their personal and professional passions. In today’s feature, past bursary recipient Jess Honan shares her thoughts.

To learn more about the bursary program, keep an eye on our website in the coming month. 

What were the benefits to you in being a 2019 NCWQ bursary recipient? 
In 2017, I went to Germany as a Rotary Youth Exchange student and lived with a family in Duisburg. Thanks to the bursary, I could finally afford to go back to Germany and see my host family again. Not only was this a great opportunity to revive my German language skills, but it also meant a lot to me to be able to spend Christmas with my second family, after not having seen them in two years. 


What are your goals for this year

Going into my third year of arts/law degrees, my main focus for 2020 remains to stay as engaged with international humanitarian law as possible, and work towards my 5-languages-by-25 dream. Specifically though, I want to do more advocacy work when it comes to rural Australia and its role in Australia’s foreign policy agenda.


 What is your personal mantra or self-talk that you use to keep yourself on track in pursuing your aspirations?

I have a little sheet of paper on the top of my laptop that says ‘w.w.h.d.?’ – what would Hermione do? Having grown up with the Harry Potter series, I always aspired to be exactly like Hermione Granger. Reminding me to be more like Hermione always pushes me to put in the extra hours when I just want to give up. I have always wanted to be as successful, smart and strong as Hermione, and this little sheet reminds me that if I continue to work hard, I can be.

Who have been your most significant female role models?

As a Harry Potter fanatic from a very young age, I have always wanted to be Hermione Granger. Aside from being one of very few unashamedly intelligent female figures in children’s stories as I was growing up, I also appreciate how dynamic a character Hermione is. She might be powerful, wickedly clever and vivaciously ambitious, but is also very down-to-earth, sensitive and stubborn. To me, this personified Hermione – she was more than a literary character, but a real human with human characteristics that I could endeavour to emmulate. 

Bursary Fund-raising Morning Tea and Fashion Parade

NCWQ held its annual bursary fund-raising morning tea and fashion parade Thursday, 10 October. Leah Lever, previous recipient of the Elements Living bursary in 2018, charmed us with her beautiful singing. Ella Madigan, a recipient of last year’s Ipswich City Council bursary for a secondary student, spoke about her activity with NCWQ and the Young Women’s sub-committee.

Currently studying nursing, she intends to then study to medicine. With the theme of acknowledging women in medicine, the contributions of various women were highlighted by affiliated organisation Queensland Medical Women’s Society. Fashions were provided by Soubrét Pink, from Mt Gravatt, displaying the current trends ranging from casual to more formal occasions. NCWQ appreciates the support of all those involved, with the proceeds funding the NCWQ-sponsored 2020 bursaries.

IWD 2019: Farhana Sharmin, Bursary Recipient

To mark 2019 International Women’s Day (#BalanceforBetter), NCWQ is profiling an impressive women each day in and around the 8th March. These featured young women are past NCWQ Bursary Recipients, and have demonstrated incredible leadership, success, community service, intelligence and commitment to their personal and professional passions. In today’s feature, past bursary recipient Farhana Sharmin shares her thoughts.

To learn more about the bursary program, keep an eye on our website in the coming month. 

What were the benefits to you in being a 2018 NCWQ bursary recipient?

Being a recipient of the 2018 NCWQ Senator Claire Moore bursary provided me a financial support for my education course. I have purchased a laptop for my study purpose. This bursary not only gave me financial support but also provided me a great networking opportunity and allowed me to return my confident, self-esteem to continue my journey.

What are your goals for this year?

Education was not always my field of study. I have done PhD in microbiology. After a long ups and down, I realized my calling is to involve with education system here in Australia. My goal is to finish my education degree this year and return to workplace after a long break. I would like to work collaboratively to make connection between science and education our future generation.

What is your personal mantra or self-talk that you use to keep yourself on track in pursuing your aspirations?

My prayer to God is my mantra to manage my insecurities, judgments, and tendency towards love. The more I connect with my own heart, I fall into deeper love with me and I can see love everywhere.

My mom always said to me “Slow down. When you rush, things fall apart. Lower your expectations of what you can do and how fast you can do it, and everyone will be happy.”

Who have been your most significant woman role models?

Mother is the greatest role model in my life, she is the most kind hearted, strong-minded, strong-willed, and driven to succeed, caring, hard-working, firm but faired person I have ever seen in my life. I miss her every day.

IWD 2019: Madison Birtchnell, Bursary Recipient

To mark 2019 International Women’s Day (#BalanceforBetter), NCWQ is profiling an impressive women each day in and around the 8th March. These featured young women are past NCWQ Bursary Recipients, and have demonstrated incredible leadership, success, community service, intelligence and commitment to their personal and professional passions. In today’s feature, past bursary recipient Madison Birtchnell shares her thoughts.

To learn more about the bursary program, keep an eye on our website in the coming month. 

What were the benefits to you in being a 2018 NCWQ bursary recipient?

I am most grateful to have received in 2017, from Chiou See Anderson, the Elements Living Bursary and in 2018 the Forum Communicators Bursary from Joy and the Forum committee. It is particularly special to me to have received a second bursary this year and to be following in my sister Taylor’s footsteps who was last year’s Forum Communicators recipient. There are so many wonderful opportunities to contribute to our communities and I particularly admire the NCWQ bursary program as it has given women across Queensland, particularly young women, the opportunity to use our passions as a platform to encourage others in the pursuit of service and become actively engaged in their communities, in leadership roles and challenging the status quo. The financial support that I have received from these bursaries has been primarily utilised to purchase a laptop for my university studies and text books, with the remainder of my funds being saved to assist in the costs of attending the Women Deliver Young Leader’s Conference next year which will be hosted in Vancouver, Canada. But this program is so much more than just financial support, with the ongoing relationships that the wonderful sponsors offer being incredibly meaningful.

I was delighted to meet Chiou See at the bursary presentation evening in 2017 and she has been a great source of mentorship and advice for myself since then, particularly in regards to my studies and entering the workforce. I particularly admire her drive in creating her own business and successfully delivering such wonderful services to her residents at Elements Living. I have also been very fortunate to speak with the lovely ladies from Forum Communicators this year, some of whom I met when I used to attend their Cleveland Forum meetings when I was younger with my mum, and I love that I am going to be able to present with them over the coming months, and assist them in their efforts to encourage women to find and raise their voices and also to speak and present confidently. Already, they have been so encouraging of my endeavours and have provided wonderful role models and a diverse network to engage with.

What are your goals for this year?

My goal this year is to continue to work towards empowering more young people to become leaders in our communities, raise awareness regarding the importance of good youth mental health, advocate for equality and inclusion and to continue to advocate for social justice issues. This year, I am traveling to Canada in June as part of the Women Deliver Young Leaders Program for the Global Conference. This worldwide program enables me to be a catalyst for and enact real change. This platform elevates my work as a champion for gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of girls and women within Australia and globally. Through consultations and awareness campaigns at both grassroots, national and ultimately global level, this two-year initiative shapes the programs and policies that affect the lives of young girls and women.

What is your personal mantra or self-talk that you use to keep yourself on track in pursuing your aspirations?

If not today, then when? I believe in the power of now and seizing the opportunities that lay before us, to never give up on one’s passions. From a young age, I have maintained the importance of a selfless attitude and giving back to my community. It is from these experiences and interactions I have developed a passion to work in government and the United Nations, where I can have the most impact and create social change. As part of this aspiration, I enjoy becoming involved in all aspects of the community and have a great passion for empowering others. It is my hope one day that I will be able to use the skills and experience that I have gained, to create a legacy which inspires the next generation of community leaders and fosters an environment that realises the potential of young people.

Who have been your most significant woman role models?

For myself, I have been fortunate to have been influenced, mentored and inspired by an array of inspirational women. In particular, I have been inspired by the drive of my sister and empowered by her continuous support and belief in my endeavours. I am also inspired by my mother, who has always supported me without question and has put me before her own needs. I am very fortunate to have also been supported by many community-minded role models including Noela O’Donnell AM (NCWQ) Kay Danes OAM (Rotary), Karen Murphy (Quota) and Louise Baldwin.

IWD 2019: Leah Lever, Bursary Recipient

To mark 2019 International Women’s Day (#BalanceforBetter), NCWQ is profiling an impressive women each day in and around the 8th March. These featured young women are past NCWQ Bursary Recipients, and have demonstrated incredible leadership, success, community service, intelligence and commitment to their personal and professional passions. In today’s feature, past bursary recipient Leah Lever shares her thoughts.

To learn more about the bursary program, keep an eye on our website in the coming month. 

What were the benefits to you in being a 2018 NCWQ bursary recipient?

Being a bursary recipient has given me the confidence to extend myself further.  It has not only supported my academic studies, but it helped my family purchase a new instrument, which I can play in addition to my singing and trumpet playing. It will add a new dimension to my work as performing artist.

What are your goals for this year?

My goals for this year to use my growing confidence to network with industry peers and help establish myself as a professional performing artist, which has been my aspiration since I was in preschool.

What is your personal mantra or self-talk that you use to keep yourself on track in pursuing your aspirations?

I tell myself that no matter what obstacles come my way, I need to keep moving forward, continue building my skills, and make a  positive contribution wherever and however I can.

Who have been your most significant woman role models?

Surfer Bethany Hamilton because she turned what many people would see as a negative life-changing event into a positive life-changing event.

Julie Andrews because she was a marvel at balancing her performing career with her family life. She was the ultimate example in achieving work-life  balance in an era when so many women could only dream of such possibilities.

IWD 2019: Joelle Cullen, Bursary Recipient

To mark 2019 International Women’s Day (#BalanceforBetter), NCWQ is profiling an impressive women each day in and around the 8th March. These featured young women are past NCWQ Bursary Recipients, and have demonstrated incredible leadership, success, community service, intelligence and commitment to their personal and professional passions. In today’s feature, past bursary recipient Joelle Cullen shares her thoughts.

To learn more about the bursary program, keep an eye on our website in the coming month. 

What were the benefits to you in being a 2018 NCWQ bursary recipient?

Being a recipient of the 2018 National Council of Women Queensland provided me with financial support to help accommodate for the cost of living away from home to study at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Aside from this, however, the NCWQ also gave me the opportunity to meet so many inspiring women and encouraged me in my first year studies, especially while settling into a new city away from my rural hometown and close family. I am extremely grateful for all the connections I have made and continual support I have received through NCWQ over the past year.

What are your goals for this year?

This year I aim to continue my second- year studies at the University of Queensland and achieve distinctions in my Biomedical Science courses. I am excited to be pursuing my dream of becoming a doctor and cannot wait to see what the remaining six years of studying “Doctor of Medicine: Provisional Entry for School- Leavers” at UQ has in store for me!

What is your personal mantra or self-talk that you use to keep yourself on track in pursuing your aspirations?

To keep myself on track in pursing my goal of becoming a doctor, I constantly have to remind myself throughout my studies that, as stated by Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘life is a journey, not a destination’. Medicine is a degree which requires a lot of study, patience and commitment, therefore, if I look too far ahead and don’t take each day as it comes, it can be overwhelming!

Recognising that while I have a goal to become a doctor and am working towards that goal, there will always be new goals and ‘destinations’ to pursue, motivates me to do my very best and make the most of the present moment. As a result, I want to make the absolute most of my six remaining years of medicine study and continue to work hard, form new friendships and, importantly, enjoy myself and have fun along the way!

Who have been your most significant woman role models?

One significant role model in my life is my former boss and manager at work, Naomi Bath. Naomi was a pharmacist in my hometown who was well- loved, respected and dearly missed by the rural community. Recently, she moved to Perth to pursue a career in medicine and since, has been on placement volunteering in the country of Tanzania and with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She has been largely involved with the local Rotary club and continues to inspire me with her love and concern for those around her and commitment and dedication to work hard in all she does.

IWD 2019: Erin Condrin, Bursary Recipient

To mark 2019 International Women’s Day (#BalanceforBetter), NCWQ is profiling an impressive women each day in and around the 8th March. These featured young women are past NCWQ Bursary Recipients, and have demonstrated incredible leadership, success, community service, intelligence and commitment to their personal and professional passions. In today’s feature, past bursary recipient Erin Condrin shares her thoughts.

To learn more about the bursary program, keep an eye on our website in the coming month. 

What were the benefits to you in being a 2018 NCWQ bursary recipient?

It was a great feeling to be recognised by the NCWQ. The recognition reaffirmed all of the hard work I had been putting into my studies. It was also inspiring to hear the stories of the other remarkable women who received awards.

What are your goals for this year?

I plan on graduating my Psychological Science degree this year and I have also sent the goal for myself to graduate my degree ‘With Distinction’ (GPA of 6.5 or higher out of 7). However, my ultimate goal for the year is to gain entry into a Masters of Speech Pathology.

What is your personal mantra or self-talk that you use to keep yourself on track in pursuing your aspirations?

I have two favourite mantras. Firstly “grow through what you go through” and secondly, “you either get bitter or you get better, the choice is yours”.

Who have been your most significant woman role models?

My Mum is the most significant role model in my life, she has been my source of strength through the illness I faced during my teenage years. She inspired me to never give up and to be the best I can be.

IWD 2019: Rebecca Senini, Bursary Recipient

To mark 2019 International Women’s Day (#BalanceforBetter), NCWQ is profiling an impressive women each day in and around the 8th March. These featured young women are past NCWQ Bursary Recipients, and have demonstrated incredible leadership, success, community service, intelligence and commitment to their personal and professional passions. In today’s feature, past bursary recipient Rebecca Senini shares her thoughts.

To learn more about the bursary program, keep an eye on our website in the coming month. 

What were the benefits to you in being a 2018 NCWQ bursary recipient?

The benefit of being a 2018 NCWQ bursary recipient, was being able to take the pressure off of my parents after my father’s cancer diagnosis, in trying to source the money to buy myself a laptop during my first year of university.

What are your goals for this year?

My goals for this year are to successfully complete my second year of pharmacy and continue striving towards finishing my degree. Additionally, one of my goals is to represent my university playing women’s rugby union at Nationals Div 1 this year.

What is your personal mantra or self-talk that you use to keep yourself on track in pursuing your aspirations?

My personal mantra to keep myself on track is “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” This quote pushes me to keep going and not to give up despite the circumstances.

Who have been your most significant woman role models?

The most significant woman role model in my life is my mother. She is positive, has always supported and encouraged me to do my best. She is the reason why I understand the power of education. My mother is the strongest and most determined woman I know. Last year she managed to keep smiling and kept on moving despite the dramas my family faced.

Councillor Vicki Howard Bursary: meet our 2018 recipient!

This year’s NCWQ bursary award ceremony was one to remember. Among the many special women being recognised for their achievements and talents, was Marlene Litchfield.

Receiving the Councillor Vicki Howard bursary, from Brisbane City Council, Marlene was recognised for her achievements in a number of areas.

Her particular bursary focuses on assistance for female students living in the Brisbane City Council area, who identify with the LGBTIQ community. In addition to the monetary value of $1,000.00, the bursary will facilitate a mentoring program with Cr Vicki Howard and youth entrepreneur and LGBTIQ activist Elise Stephenson.  Applicants could be enrolled in secondary or tertiary studies.

Key bursary criteria included the following:

  • A female student, aged between 16-24 years, living in the Brisbane City Council area, enrolled in high school or tertiary studies, and identifying with the LGBTIQ community.
  • Able to demonstrate your work in empowering your communities in your educational institution and/or wider networks
  • An Australian citizen or a Permanent Resident of Australia.

NCWQ is very pleased to award this bursary to Marlena in 2018.

Marlena Litchfield is a young woman of passion who has carved out a number of key positive outcomes for the LGBTIQ community.

From early in her university studies, she has been extremely involved in activities which have promoted and delivered:

  • safe, inclusive events for under-18 students
  • semester-long sports tournaments for queer students
  • one of the University’s largest Queer Balls.
  • Safe-Sex Week activities
  • Pride Week events and
  • LGTBIQ student rights protests.

The LGBTIQ Legal Service internship gave Marlena further avenues to achieve positive outcomes for the LGBTIQ community:

  • Facilitating client in-take for weekly walk-in advice sessions
  • matching LGBTIQ people to specialty solicitors
  • organising promotional events
  • updating the social media account
  • securing corporate donors for the service.

Marlena is a passionate advocate for young LGBTIQ people and fostering the creation of a safe community for all. Her own experiences have cemented a platform to address the discriminatory practices operating towards minority groups within the queer community.

Her vision for the future is to continue working in criminal law, and she is committed to representing and empowering marginalised communities in Australia.

Congratulations Marlena! We are so looking forward to following your exciting ongoing journey.