Sound the horns, beat the drums and cheer at the top of your lungs... it's time to introduce our 2017 sisSTARs.
This year we are proud to be welcoming 31 ambitious and dedicated girls and women from across Australia into the sisSTARhood! Our recipients were chosen from over 850 incredible applications.
Our scholarship winners will receive:
A $4,000 financial grant
Access to a mentor for 12 months
A two-day workshop with Layne Beachley in Sydney
Our youngest sisSTAR is Holley Sommerville-Knot, who is just 13 years old. Holley runs a social enterprise called “Tell Someone Who Cares” which aims to disrupt the palm oil industry by providing sustainable alternatives.
Joining Holley are our other teen sisSTARs, Stephanie Kurlow, a 16 year old ballet dancer from western Sydney whose dream is to be Australia’s first hijab ballerina in the world; Jade Esler from Canberra, who is already Australia’s youngest recreational pilot and is aiming to be Australia’s youngest female commercial pilot (Jade also runs a successful cupcake business on the side to raise money for flying lessons); Jade Calverley from SA who is attending the World Dwarf games in Canada this year for swimming and Nakita Mawhirt from WA whose ultimate dream is to represent Australia at the Olympics in Modern Pentathlon.
Our talented scientists include Rose Tasker from Tasmania whose dream is to become Australia’s first female astronaut; Nicole Seebacher from NSW who is using her grant money to go to Harvard University for cancer research and Blanche D’Anassti who manages the Deadly Science Getaway initiative for Indigenous girls.
The winning sisSTARs in the Business, Leadership and Community category are incredibly diverse. Some of our winners include Daisy Cox from QLD who is autistic and runs a program for autistic teenage girls designed to build connections and a sense of community; Hue Man Dung who runs a Women’s Leadership and Mentoring program for young refugees and new immigrants in Melbourne and Nipuni Wijewickrema from the ACT who has established a florist social enterprise that provides meaningful employment for workers with special needs.
In the Arts category, we are proud to introduce Miranda Walker, a circus artist who wants to show that her own dynamic, exciting style can take aerial hoop into a whole different area, where skill and talent count for more than appearance. SisSTAR Cassidy Richardson is a dancer who is studying dance full-time in Melbourne away from her family and lives with Tourette’s syndrome and Phillipa Murphy Haste, a saxophone player from Sydney whose dream is to form a new ensemble specifically for women and transgender people.
Joining Holley in the environment category is Tania Kenyon from QLD who is doing a PHD on the protection and demise of the Great Barrier Reef and Emma Kennedy from the NT whose dream is to bring about sustainable improvements in companion animal welfare in remote Aboriginal communities in Australia.
Our sisSTARs in the sports category represent a wide range of sports and include Joanna Breen from TAS who in March of 2018 will be living her dream to compete in the Melbourne to Osaka Double Handed Yacht Race. This is a 5500NM non-stop sailing marathon that occurs every four years, and is one of the most challenging corinthian ocean yacht races in the world. Incredibly, Joanna will lead the only all-female team out of the 30 yachts entered in the race. Shantelle Thompson is a two times world champion grappler who is aiming to compete in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and wants to help other women stand tall and Hannah Macdougall whose goal is to become Australia’s first amputee to compete at the 2017 Cycling Australia National Road Championships and win the 2017 UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships in South Africa.
Marika is an art teacher in remote Queensland who is purchasing materials for her classroom
Cassidy is a full time dance student who lives with Tourette’s Syndrome
A circus artist, Miranda is travelling to Moscow to further her training
Phillipa Murphy Haste
Phillipa is a saxophonist who is starting an ensemble for women and transgender people
Stephanie’s dream is to become the first Hijab ballerina in the world
Business, Leadership and Community
Nipuni creates meaningful employment opportunities for people with special needs through her social enterprise floristry business
A world champion wakeboarder, Courtney has developed “More to the Weekend”, a not for profit which aims to encourage young people to get more out of their weekend without the use of drugs and alcohol
Hue Man Dang
Hue has designed a Young Women’s Leadership Mentoring program for new immigrants
Samantha uses surfing to create a better future for the women and girls of Vanuatu
Daisy, who is autistic runs a program for autistic girls by autistic girls
Jade is Australia’s youngest recreational pilot aiming to become Australia’s youngest female commercial pilot
Natalie’s dream is to change the arts and cultural conversation to be more inclusive of suburban, regional and remote communities through her State of the Arts online platform
A new immigrant from Afghanistan who spoke no English when she arrived, Marina is embarking on a nursing degree
A PHD student, Tania’s dream is that the children of the future will be able to see for themselves the wonder, colour and beauty of the Great Barrier Reef
Emma’s goal is to bring about sustainable improvements in companion animal welfare in Aboriginal communities
Holley Sommerville Knot
Holley started a not for profit when she was just 8. She now runs a social enterprise designed to disrupt the palm oil industry
Corrine’s dream is to become a registered nurse and to give back to her rural community
Hanadi is only just beginning to live out her dream to become a scientist. She has recently transitioned into private housing after becoming homeless due to family violence
Rose is on a quest to become Australia’s first female astronaut and has recently been accepted into a training program at NASA
Claire is an astrophysicist researching the question of “how are stars born?”
Nicole is using her scholarship to attend Harvard University to further her cancer research
Blanche’s Deadly Sciene program inspires young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls to pursue a career in science
Jade is aiming to win a swimming medal at the 2017 Dwarf Games in Canada
Hannah is aiming to become Australia’s first amputee to compete at the 2017 Cycling Australia National Road Championships
Jocelyn is a paracanoesit and activist for people living with disabilities to participate in sport
Tahina is a weighlifter aiming to represent Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She also runs a program called the Grass Skirts Project in PNG designed to educate and empower women and children about domestic violence through sport
Joanna is leading the only all female team in the 2018 Melbourne to Osaka Double Handed yacht race
Shantelle is a two time world champion in grappling and is hoping to compete for Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games
A bilateral amputee as a result of a train accident, Jade’s goal is to become a Paralympian runner
A former WNBA player, Aja runs a program designed to improve the lives of women and girls in remote Queensland through sport by developing their self confidence
Nikita is a Modern Pentathlete whose goal is to compete at the Olympics. In 2017 she will compete at the World Championships
Thank you to everyone who applied. The submissions this year were outstanding and our selection panel had a tough job making a final decision.
Applications for 2018 will open in July. Stay tuned for more details.