Ink, Sweat & Scholarships: Applying for an Equity Scholarship 

By Josephine Renee

The following article was originally submitted as an application for an equity scholarship. And I got it! I hope others find this article useful in their education journey. 

My mother always told me that good teeth were a sign of wealth, and you could tell someone’s financial position by their smile. I never understood this until I went to the dentist as an adult and had to go four separate times to have a mould made, so I wouldn’t grind my teeth to dust in my sleep. This mouthguard cost me $800, which I had to pay out of pocket. I paid some of it in cash, searching through my draws for anything I’d left behind. The irony is that I was grinding my teeth due to the stress of uni and my financial position. I’d made the decision to travel, which chewed up all my savings, even though I was living off Monoprix’s sandwiches, which is the European equivalent of Seven-Eleven. 

I don’t regret it but when I came home, I had to move house again and travel further, meaning a car was better than public transport (Brisbane has the worst wait times for public transport out of Australia’s big cities). Everything just seemed to compound and soon I was watching my savings deplete, following its downward trajectory from $5,000 just a few months ago, down to 3, to 2, and now just trying to hang on to $1,000 in my account. Just in case something goes wrong, and I have to pay registration, or heaven forbid I chew through my mouthguard and have to get a new one. I’m sure by the time this is filled out I will be trying to hold on to just $500 in my account and counting down the days until my next Centrelink payment, along with so many others.  

I feel like there’s a lot of stress placed on your twenties. You should know the answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. You need to be working on that and establishing yourself because “You’ll be thirty before you know it”. But you also need to “Live, go out, have fun! You’ll never be this young again.” Living in the city presents so many opportunities. Rarely are these free. Even if you wish to combine pleasure and your business goals, such as attending a convention for creative writers, like Genre Con, that will be $429 for general admission. 

Being from a regional or rural town means I don’t have a family to sneakily steal toilet paper from, or simply be catered to for a night where I don’t have to pay for food or do the cooking. It’s more bothersome than I originally thought it would be. Asking my mum what I can cook with just cabbage and asking my dad how to find my gross income, must all be handled over the phone.  

Living currently feels less affordable than at any other time, and working seems somewhat pointless. You could work and lose the money Centrelink provides, which is helpful and allows you to focus on your studies. But instead, you could earn a wage that you could potentially live off, as Centrelink only seems to cover rent. But then every time you work and stack the shelves at your nearest Woolworths, loading up the 3L milk, you acknowledge how you need to waste 30 minutes of your life to afford this thing of milk and a loaf of bread that will last maybe half a week. Multiply this mentality to every other item in the store you need to have a balanced diet, and then remember the rent, the car, the fuel, the house, the laundry, the heat, and the university courses you’re paying thousands for that you want to achieve good marks in so that maybe you won’t need to work at Woolworths. That’s if Woolworths hires you in your old age (22) and doesn’t put you on the worst shifts giving the 15-year-olds all the good bonuses. 

I don’t understand how people can hold jobs and complete all the coursework we have. They usually give up on one, usually uni, as work and classes always conflict. I rarely see people with jobs in class. Occasionally, I’ll meet someone new to me from my degree, and they’ll tell me they missed all those tutorials for work and that’s why we’d never met previously. I can’t fully imagine the mentality that goes behind paying maybe $2,000 for a unit, most of that going towards the tutorials let’s say, so each tutorial is valued at about $153 each over the roughly 13-week course. This means you’re paying $76 an hour to be in that tutorial, yet instead you choose to work and earn $20 from a terrible job. But when I meet these people and they say they missed it for work, I find myself replying sympathetically with, “Yeah, I feel yah. Moneys good.”  

Applications opened on November 9th and closed on March 11th. Applications for Semester 2 will open in May. 

Josephine Renee (she/her) is a 23-year-old novelist based in Meanjin Brisbane who is studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at QUT. She is a 2024 Youth Ambassador for the Brisbane Writers Festival and is the 2023 recipient of the Kelly van Meurs Memorial Scholarship. She has travelled Europe and North Africa for two years, spent a year and a half in the USA, Canada, Cuba, and Mexico, and has recently returned from Paris. When not gaining world-building inspiration, she dedicates her time to writing and illustrating. She has work published in Scratch That and Glass. Find her on Instagram @josephine_renee_official


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