When Julie Matthews left high school at 17, she only had one career in mind – to be a social worker. Now she is well on the way to achieving her dream as the 2020 winner of the Leneen Forde Zonta Scholarship enabling her to continue with her social work studies at Griffith University.

“Receiving the Leneen Forde Zonta Scholarship means the world to me,” Julie says. “It has enabled me to buy my textbooks and pay my bills without having to have constant financial stress. I am able to achieve my goals of completing my Bachelor of Social Work without the added anxieties of worrying about how I am going to be able to pay for my expenses.”

The $2000 Leneen Forde Zonta Scholarship is named in recognition of the esteem in which Leneen Forde AC – former Governor of Queensland and Chancellor Griffith University – is held within Zonta Club of Brisbane, as well as her legacy to Zonta, both nationally and internationally as a past International President.

Julie, who lives in Springfield Lakes, says she first started her journey to be a social worker when she left school. However it has not been a straightforward journey to achieve her goal, with Julie having to interrupt her studies to support herself.

“I had a high Tertiary Entrance score and was accepted into the University of Queensland,’ Julie says. “ I was not living at home at the time and felt that I had to defer from uni to be able to support myself.

“I ended up working at Expo ’88 then worked at a video duplication company. In my early Twenties I was promoted to General Manager and continued with this company, even though it changed hands for the next 18 years.

“My position shifted to product and acquisitions manager. Due to film and audio streaming my job was made redundant and I worked for a further 10 years as a corrections officer while studying a criminology degree.”

The world of working in the prison system was somewhat cathartic for Julie, and it steered her down a more humanistic road.

“Once again, I was drawn to do social work. This has been my choice and I have learnt so much about the empowerment of women and also the oppression of women.

This is my life goal to make a difference.”

Asked what winning the scholarship meant to her, Julie said: “Education for women is paramount to gaining independence. I believe that we unfortunately still live in a patriarchal society and things need to change for women. I watched my Mum working in low paid jobs and she lived in an oppressive home environment as she felt that she had no other options. My education will enable me to pursue a career within the Human Services field and I am determined to make a positive change in the world. This may be on an individual assisting role, or in a larger societal context. Nonetheless, changes will happen. I consider myself as an independent woman, and I think this inspires a feeling of freedom within.”

Leneen Forde had this to say about the scholarship in her name and why education is so important as a potential life changer for women.

“Having been chancellor of Griffith university was both an honour and an eye opener for me,” Leneen says.

“It is a place that gives opportunity for life changing experiences to many people who may not otherwise be in a position for an education that can change their lives. Julie’s story is only one of many. 

“The first time I officiated at a Logan campus graduation in the year 2000 every single graduate was ‘a first in family’ to have attended university. Having an education can never be taken away from you and it changes lives and families for ever.

“I was a widowed mother of five young children with little support  when I got my  law degree. So for me, supporting scholarships for disadvantaged women, is payback time for the opportunities I’ve had in my life”

 Congratulations Julie – you are a most worthy winner of our Leneen Forde Zonta Scholarship.

You can donate to the Leneen Forde Zonta Scholarship and play a part in a life changing opportunity for women. For more information please go here