College alumna Sam Cheah is a leading young social entrepreneur committed to changing the world and in 2015 she was awarded the Tillyard Prize, the most prestigious award for undergraduate students at ANU.
Sam moved from New Zealand to study at ANU where she lived on campus at Ursula Hall which gave her the support she needed to settle in to a new country.
While studying at ANU, Sam co-founded the university outreach program Engage: University Outreach, a Canberra-based not for profit which gives high school students in regional areas the chance to meet university students and take part in hands-on workshops relevant to university study.
Engage, has partnered with three different outreach organisations to visit 1163 students at 15 different schools in New South Wales and the ACT. Despite graduating in December 2015, Sam has big plans to grow Engage beyond a voluntary student organisation.
Taking advantage of the opportunities that were available to her as a student, Sam was heavily involved in committees and organisations at ANU.
“I was the Chief Operations Officer and Chief Development Officer of Robogals Global, a Committee Member and player at the ANU Women’s Football Club, a First Year Rep and Secretary of the ANU Black Hole Society, founding General Committee Member of the ANU New Zealand Students Society, a volunteer at Engineers Without Borders, Community Ambassador at Student Equity and a Senior Mentor of the PAL (peer assisted learning) program.”
Since graduating life hasn’t slowed down for Sam and she now juggles the titles of an engineer, educator and entrepreneur.
“I have continued to work on growing Engage, working four day weeks in order to have more time to dedicate to it. In my work as an educator, I am working on an online classroom to give teachers the skills and content they need to run an extension program offered by the College. This will hopefully make the course accessible to (high school) students outside of Canberra. I also work as an engineer at a company called FEI, providing digital rock analysis services.”
“ANU gave me the opportunity to volunteer and discover causes to be passionate about, and the training to be able to make the most of it. For example, without volunteering in regional areas with ANU Student Equity, I would not have realised there was a disparity between the opportunities regional students had compared to those in urban centres.
“My degree taught me how to manage projects and people, and how to be an effective team member as well as team leader. Other opportunities I had to volunteer also moulded the way I see myself, my team, and the community. I was able to bring all of this to all together to start Engage, and hopefully give it a much better chance at succeeding than I would without these experiences!”
Sam was awarded a National Merit Scholarship that enabled her to pursue her studies at ANU.
“The National Merit Scholarship made it feasible for me to attend ANU. Without it I would not have attended ANU. Not to say that I came because money was offered – to me, scholarships and prizes open up opportunities, rather than reasons to do something. This was actually the smaller of the two major scholarships I was offered leaving school. But it was enough to make ANU a feasible option and I liked the sound of the Engineering degree offered by the College.”
“The Tillyard Prize’s biggest benefit has been the exposure for both myself and Engage. I have been able to use the subsequent media and prestige of the award to increase our reach and letting more people know about our work, making it easier to find volunteers and find partners to work with.”