First son of the Dawn Wade Scholarship

By Amy Huynh

The Dawn Wade Scholarship offers financial support and the opportunity to live at residential college International House (IH) to high-achieving, rural students transitioning into study at the University of Melbourne. It’s an initiation into a global community that stays with you long after graduation. We caught up with Brett Stone, Bachelor of Commerce alumnus, former Student Club President of International House, and now Australian Labor Party candidate, to find out how the scholarship impacted him.

Brett, from Shepparton, was the first to be awarded the Dawn Wade Scholarship in 2012, a prospect that was thoroughly exciting with his limited experience in a big city.

The move to Melbourne changed his entire perspective. “International House encouraged cross-cultural understanding – we had over 250 students from all around the world, all living together. We studied together, ate together, hung out together. I met some of my best friends at International House, people I wouldn’t have otherwise met without the scholarship.”

Brett Stone at International House

In his third year, Brett decided to run as Student Club President, with the goal of giving back to the community that changed his life. “Receiving the scholarship was transformational, most of my formative years as a young adult were spent amongst a community of loving, global citizens. I still keep in touch with every president that’s succeeded me.”

Three years since graduating, Brett is now running his own business, Stone Digital, an accomplishment he puts down to his cumulative experiences in leadership, open curiosity and willingness to take on a challenge. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit – when I was 15, I organised transportation for people in Shepparton to go to music festivals. Last year seemed like the best time to take a risk and venture out on my own.”

Based in Sydney, Brett comes back to Melbourne for a couple of days each month – despite having little time outside of his work commitments, he still makes an effort to reconnect with his alma mater.

“I’m about to visit International House after this actually,” he grins. “I had a big catch-up with a few IH’ers last night, I’m still in contact with a lot of them.”

It’s comments like these that showcase the solidarity of the International House community and shows the lingering influence of the Dawn Wade Scholarship, years after the students have left university halls. This camaraderie extends to many IH’ers, so much so that annually, numerous volunteers help organise community events, as well as attend alumni events celebrating their formative experiences at IH.

Brett Stone (front row, fourth from the left) with fellow IH'ers.

Brett’s time at IH has continued to influence him since graduating – he is now a candidate for the Australian Labor Party in the next Federal Election for the electorate of North Sydney. “It was at IH that I realised the importance of community representation, and the work of elected leaders, especially amongst young people. My experiences at IH amongst a diverse, global community spurred me on to represent my community in a different way – throughout the campaign, I’ll be delivering Labor’s policies to the broader electorate, which has an increasingly younger demographic. I’m really looking forward to this next chapter.”

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