Therese graduation2

Therese Cochrane on the transformative effect of education

Therese Cochrane and Fred Woollard are the parents of alumnus Nicholas (Nick) Woollard (2018-2022). While Therese and Fred began to donate to the Burgmann Hardship Fund during Nick’s time as a resident, they have continued their donations since Nick graduated. We are so grateful to them for their ongoing support and generosity.

What inspired you to donate to the Burgmann Hardship Fund?
I studied Law and Economics at Sydney University and recently became aware of the student Bursary Program for students facing hardship with living expenses. I have made some donations to that fund. When Nick was at Burgmann I wondered whether it had a similar program.

When I studied at Sydney University, I had come from Newcastle and knew no-one in Sydney. Our family was not well off, so my parents sacrificed a lot to fund my living expenses. I was incredibly privileged to attend university at a time when it was free. Many people like myself would not otherwise have had the chance to attend a prestigious university like Sydney (or ANU). I received some Government assistance via TEAS for living expenses and I worked part time the entire time through university. I was well aware of the hand to mouth existence faced by people studying, particularly if they are away from family (which is the case for most students at ANU). When COVID started, I realised that many students who were dependant on part time jobs would be facing even tougher circumstances, so I decided to continue our donations.

What has inspired you to continue to donate even after Nick moved out of the College?
Nick loved his time at Burgmann. We have many happy memories of his time there. Just because Nick has left, it makes no difference to the need for help. I think most people donate to causes they know. I really loved my time at university and I think that it is a special experience that should be encouraged. I believe in the transformative effect of education for people’s lives and that contributing to the ability of people to continue their education, particularly for those who are less well off, is money extremely well spent. I also like to donate on the basis of need. My postgraduate studies were overseas at a well-funded university, to which I have not made donations. I see greater need for student support here.

What were your impressions of Burgmann when Nick first joined the College?
I was impressed with the caring and nurturing atmosphere at Burgmann. On the first day, the smiling welcoming faces and friendly hellos made us feel at home. I remember Sally Renouf being very much on the ground welcoming the new students. I was particularly excited to see the program for first year activities in Orientation Week. It looked like so much fun! I would have loved those activities as a first year.

Do you have any highlights or special memories from this time?
I remember Move-In Day well. Seeing the happy faces and feeling the university buzz was wonderful. We went to some budget shops to purchase household items (with hundreds of other parents and students), and the excited atmosphere in the shopping mall was unexpected. I think this is a special experience at Canberra. In other cities, the universities are dispersed and the population is much greater. It felt like Canberra was full of students and optimism.

And what were the challenges?
It is not easy moving somewhere when you know no-one (I have done it a few times). Burgmann does do its best to welcome new students and make everyone feel included, but it can still be challenging for people who are a long way from home. It can also be challenging for those who are not natural extroverts to suddenly live with 400 new people. Burgmann has a well-established structure to assist with this process as much as possible. Starting a university course requires adjustment too—getting around the campus and navigating the timetables and university schedules can be tricky. But at Burgmann there was always someone to ask.

What was Nick’s experience of Burgmann as a resident, and your experience of Burgmann as the parent of a resident?
Nick really enjoyed his time at Burgmann. It is large enough that there is a diverse range of students from many different places, yet it is small enough that it feels like home. I know how much the staff at Burgmann care for their students.

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About the Resident Hardship Fund

While scholarships and bursaries reduce fees, if a resident cannot afford the trip home to visit their family, this may also be a disincentive to attend university during a vulnerable time. This could be as little as a $30 bus fare or as much as $1500-$2000 for a round trip of flights—as for some of our residents coming from rural or remote areas, who are only able to afford seeing family once a year. Your contributions to the Hardship Fund help provide vital discretionary support for residents who are in critical need above and beyond their fees.

We are grateful for every contribution to support our residents; every dollar makes a difference.
Support Burgmann Residents

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Therese and Fred with their son Nick at his ANU graduation
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Therese and Fred with their son Nick at a Burgmann Family Weekend
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