Nicole Seebacher is proof that you should never let the past define your future successes.
As a softly spoken scientist and 2017 Aim for the Stars scholarship recipient, Nicole grew up in the northern suburbs of Sydney. She was a kid who didn’t enjoy school and always tried to avoid having to answer questions for fear of being wrong.
At 8 years I was the only kid in my year to fail the basic skills test. I made up every reason under the sun to explain how this could have happened. I was visually impaired, I had low self-confidence, I was bored, I was short, I was a brunette…. You name it, I found a way to blame it. I could never quite put my finger on it”.
Getting an education was a struggle but she never gave up. Nicole even surprised herself when she finished year twelve and was accepted into Medicine at Sydney University.
To say 2017 was big for Nicole is an understatement. In February, a chemotherapy agent she worked on for her PhD began Phase 1 clinical trials for the treatment of patients with advanced solid tumours. In recognition of her research, Nicole was awarded the NSW young woman of the year. Amazing!
“Not long after this, I received a very unexpected phone call. It was Layne offering me a Scholarship to travel to Harvard to continue my cancer research. Not in a million years did I think that such an incredible opportunity would ever happen, especially not to me.”
Come April, Nicole was on the plane to Boston. At Harvard Medical School, she learnt about a new scientific technology that modifies the genome of cancer cells, one of the most important technological advance of science in recent years. "If successful, we may very well be looking at a cure for cancer". This research at Harvard was recently published in three international scientific journals.
Someone recently asked Nicole what she would say if she had the opportunity to go back and talk to that 8-year-old girl. To her, that’s easy.
- Do not let a sheet of paper be a measure of your ability or your success
- If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you
- There is no way around the hard work, embrace it
Since 2003, Aim for the Stars has awarded scholarships amounting to more than $800,000 in grant funding. With the Foundation’s support scholarship winners, like Nicole Seebacher are encouraged to dream big, set audacious goals and to really go for them.
It is an unfortunate fact that in Australia women in science are still not equal with their counterparts. There is a gender pay gap, serious under representation of women in top pay brackets and an alarming decline in the number of women in senior positions. To quote Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, “no clever country under-serves half its people."
By providing funding for females in this field, the Foundation aims to address this issue and help women and girls to reach their true potential and thrive. We want to make Australia not only the lucky country, but the clever country.
Applications for next year's scholarships open in February 2018. Click here to register your interest. Winners will be announced in June.
Scholarships are given in a number of categories including - Arts, Music and Entertainment, Sport, Environment and Sustainability, Science and Technology AND Business, Leadership and Education.