THE Chris and Marli Tilley Scholarship was launched at a ceremony at the Stawell Secondary College on Friday.
The inaugural winner was Mitchell Collins, who completed year 12 at Stawell Secondary College last year.
Mr Collins started his law and international relations double degree earlier this year at Deakin University in Geelong.
“It gives me the opportunity to actually fulfil my dreams and study at university and the ability to actually 100 per cent focus on it, rather than 50 or 80 per cent, or whatever it would be if i had to work to support myself,” he said.
The Tilley family donated $260,000 in 2015 to start a scholarship fund to assist children in the Stawell region with the financial costs of tertiary education.
Amber Taylor was also recognised, gaining a scholarship to commence her chosen studies next year.
Ms Taylor is working this year to support herself financially before she starts further study.
Peter Tilley, the son of Chris and Marli, represented the family at the ceremony and said it was a great way to contribute to the region that his family grew up in.
“The people who are most likely to come back to the country are country kids,” he said.
“If you can get a few with a qualification or a degree into a career, then they’re the ones who will come back to contribute.”
Chris and Marli were passionate about the importance of education and the Tilley family believes this scholarship will be a fitting way to keep their legacy alive in the area.
The scholarship is available to all year 12 students at Stawell Secondary College who wish to pursue further study at a tertiary level.
There will be a rigorous and thorough selection process used to select the person who best fits with the aims and objectives of the program.
The three applicants selected on the shortlist are then expected to front a panel before a final decision is made on who will be awarded the scholarship.
The selection criteria are: demonstrated capacity for leadership, a desire to return to rural Victoria at the completion of studies, personal financial circumstances and the service to the community they have offered.
The scholarship is valued at $15,000 over a three-year period, with funding to provide three services – financial support, mentoring and leadership development.
Experts say the transition from secondary education to tertiary education can be daunting for some students, with many finding it hard to make the adjustment from the rural environment they grew up in to city living.
Applications for 2017 scholarships close on Monday, July 18 at 6pm.