Unique to ANU, the Tuckwell Scholarship for undergraduate students has no peer anywhere in Australia. Awarding 25 scholarships annually to school leavers, the program gives talented and motivated individuals opportunities to realise their full potential by providing financial support, mentoring, personal enrichment and development activities that support and enhance their university experience.
Tuckwell scholars also have exclusive access to their own on-site meeting place, Scholar’s House, where they can attend events and connect and learn as a community. Bo Zeng — who came to ANU from Alice Springs in 2022 — talks about the program and how he got the Tuckwell scholarship.
Like many ANU students, Bo has a wonderfully rich multicultural background. His parents migrated from China to South East Queensland in 2001, and Bo was born in 2004. When his dad secured a job in the government sector in Alice Springs it was meant to be a three-year stay but became a much longer one!
Bo says he had a great childhood. He made many friends, went to wonderful schools — including Larapinta Primary and St. Phillips College — and was surrounded by the stunning scenery that surrounds Larapinta, on the western side of Alice Springs.
During high school, his focus was mainly on maths and science but towards the end of year 12 he realised his interests lay elsewhere and decided to focus on a foreign affairs career.
Bo with his family.
After some research, Bo clearly saw ANU as a world-class university with excellent facilities, flexible degree options and unique resources. He was also drawn to the bush capital, Canberra, mainly because he saw Canberra as offering a unique combination of urban city and regional small town.
As Bo says, “I applied to ANU because they have a foreign affairs focus and the international security program seemed really interesting. I also had friends at ANU in their first year who recommended it. During my research, I found out about the Tuckwell Scholarship.
"Obviously, moving out of home to a new city and paying for a university degree and all the other costs involved is expensive. But I applied to ANU and for the Tuckwell Scholarship because to be eligible you need to have contributed to the community as well as meet the academic requirements. I thought there was no way I was going to get the scholarship, though. But then I decided: you only miss the shots you don’t take!”
After getting through four rounds of rigorous Tuckwell interviews with different panel members – from academics to industry leaders – Bo was eventually awarded a four-year scholarship.
Bo poses with two friends while on a hike.
The benefits of securing a Tuckwell Scholarship are abundant. They range from financial support, which includes $24,700 per annum each year for the length of your degree, an allowance to assist with moving to Canberra and free ANU Sport Fitness Centre membership.
The scholarship program also focuses on leadership development and enrichment, where scholars can attend workshops, seminars and academic dinners, and connect with each other in their subject areas.
Mentoring is also an essential part of the program, with scholars supported by a team of staff who help them build networks and achieve their personal and professional goals. Scholars also have the opportunity to receive one-on-one mentoring from an experienced Tuckwell Fellow and attend alumni events.
Bo poses with a group of other Tuckwell Scholars in formal wear.
Bo is now in his second year of a four-year double degree in economics and international security. That’s one of the things he loves about ANU — we're flexible with double degrees, allowing students to mix and match disciplines. Bo is also considering doing an Honours year after he graduates to further his career aspirations.
His dream job is in a foreign affairs role, possibly with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and to be posted overseas. These jobs are extremely competitive, but as Bo says, he is inspired every day by his lecturers, many of whom have become mentors, and is working hard towards his goal.
“Many of my mentors have had fascinating career paths before becoming lecturers and professors. I have one who has worked with the United Nations in Yugoslavian war zones. Another used to work with the High Commissioner of the Solomon Islands. They offer me so much inspiration.”
Bo is also considering some volunteer work during his time at ANU. Although he gets financial relief as part of the scholarship package, he would like to give back to the community, possibly at a migrant or refugee centre.
Bo out bush excited to be a Tuckwell Scholar 2022.
Bo lives on campus in Burton & Garran Hall — a self-catered residence mainly for undergrads where everyone has their own room, but share kitchen and bathroom spaces. Not that these are negatives for Bo!
“We are a really tight-knit group, and I’ve made so many friends. The kitchens are very relaxed, social places. It’s a bit of a trap actually, as you’ll start cooking dinner and then end up talking to someone for the next five hours. I love it!”
Although his other 24 Tuckwell colleagues are from very different backgrounds and life experiences, they all share common goals and achievements. There are dinners with mentors and a range of social events, and what Bo initially called “presumptive friendships” are now close, supportive bonds with fellow Tuckwell scholars.
As he concludes, “I have been gifted with 24 other people who have something in common with me in a supportive community. It’s like having an extra set of unique friends, which has made moving from home in Alice Springs to Canberra so much easier. It’s been an amazing start to university life”.
Bo and the rest of the Tuckwell Scholars pose while wearing colourful beanies.