11 February, 2024
Scholarship for Brauer leader
PERSERVERENCE and the dedication to make a better life for himself in Australia has seen Warrnambool’s Rain Lai earn the 2024 Salt Creek Scholarship.
The scholarship will support Rain as he begins his studies at Monash University in Melbourne.
The $30,000 scholarship will cover his accommodation expenses at Monash Urban Community, an expense which otherwise may have proven insurmountable.
Salt Creek Wind Farm proprietor Peter Coy, having supported his daughters through university, was inspired to launch the scholarship as he felt regional students faced a disadvantage with the cost of accommodation when pursuing a degree not available locally.
Salt Creek Wind Farm developer Tilt Renewables jumped at the opportunity to support the scholarship, offering to pay half of the total cost with Mr Coy.
Rain could not agree more with the scholarship’s importance, saying it would take all of the pressure off his family to financially support him through his higher education.
“This is amazing; it will mean a lot to myself and my family,” he said.
“The scholarship is going to take so much stress off my mum.
“As someone from an immigration background, my mum has worked in a factory for seven years and my dad has been in China taking care of a family member
“She is really the only one earning money, so having the opportunity to go to university would have put so much financial pressure on us.
“This will help so much.”
The scholarship selection panel, consisting of Mr Coy's daughters Rosa Coy and Sally Towell, and Salt Creek neighbour Susan Bosch, came to an easy and unanimous decision to award this year’s scholarship to Rain.
“Rain arrived in Australia with his parents in 2016,” Mrs Towell said.
“The family left behind a life of extreme financial hardship in China with the hope of a brighter future.
“They settled in Warrnambool, speaking no English and with no money.
“Both of Rain's parents secured employment at Midfield Meats, and Mr Rain attended Warrnambool's Brauer College.”
Mrs Towell said what Rain had accomplished in just seven years, particularly overcoming further difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was an inspiring example of a young man who richly deserved an opportunity.
“Rain speaks English with only a trace of an accent, he was DUX of Brauer College last year with an ATAR of 99.10 and was chosen by his peers as school captain,” she said.
Rain will attend orientation at Monash University this Sunday before he begins studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in the Masters Accelerated Pathway later this month.
Rain said he aspired to pursue engineering after being inspired by his father’s resourcefulness to support the family in China.
“I was from a poor household in China and, as a kid, there were not many resources available to us, but my father was very resourceful,” he said.
“We would gather resources as best we could to get by, including making a water pump.
“We made our own water supply for our house in China.
“That experience made me fascinated by the engineering and inspired me to pursue this type of career.”
Rain said he has been “amazed” by differences in culture and language since arriving in Australia, but has relished in the opportunity to proudly represent the community he now calls home.
“It was hard at the start because I didn’t speak the language or understand the culture, it was such a big difference and cultural shock,” he said.
“I struggled but after three years I had picked it up, so I’ve been amazed by the difference.
“What I really like about Australia is there is greater freedom to do what I want to do, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve done so well for myself.”
Rain said he could not thank those involved with the scholarship enough.
“I can’t thank Mr Coy and Tilt Renewables enough,” he said.
“This is a really great opportunity to be awarded this scholarship, and it has given me a lot of confidence in what I can achieve at university.”