When the stars align

By Seth Robinson

The stars aligned and brought Maria Callista to the University of Melbourne. Now she’s ready and excited to be starting her Bachelor of Commerce.

Maria Callista is the recipient of the Paul Wheelton Scholarship.  It’s a scholarship that opens up the door to Indonesian women who have come from a disadvantaged background.

“I grew up in Bali. My father was Australian, and my mother was Indonesian, but I actually grew up with my half-sister’s family, my birth parents weren’t around. I was with her through most of my schooling, before moving in with a family friend for the last two years of school. It was in that time that I studied in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which was really important, because it had always been my dream to go to university overseas.”

In order to make this happen, Maria dedicated the last two years of her studies not only to getting good marks academically, but to becoming involved in her community, taking on extra curriculars like student council and the model UN.

Ultimately it was a chance meeting, and a stroke of good fortune that saw her choose the University of Melbourne.

Maria Callista
Maria Callista

“Originally, I was looking at studying in Europe, perhaps in Amsterdam, but then we had a new careers councillor start at my school. My class was small, only about 15 students, so I got the opportunity to have a lot of one on one time with her. The day after our initial meeting, she actually forwarded me an e-mail outlining a scholarship that was for a female student, from a disadvantaged background, from Bali, to attend the University of Melbourne. A lot of things fell into place for me then, I was studying higher level business, and it was one of my favourite subjects, so it felt like the stars had aligned. I knew the University was hosting an event the next month, so I wrote my 1000-word essay, dressed up and went with all my paperwork.”

There, Maria connected with a representative from the University, who encouraged her to apply. Now, six months later, she is moving into International House, and beginning her studies in the Bachelor of Commerce.

“I’m so excited to be joining this community, at International House, and the University. From everything I’ve seen so far, everyone is really supportive, and it sounds like IH work really hard to build that sense of connection.”

When we meet, she’s just picked up her first textbook, and is eager to begin her studies, with an initial inclination towards majors in Marketing and Management.

“I’m really excited for second semester, when I can start taking more of those elective classes and drilling down on my majors. In the meantime, I’m loving this new experience of being a uni student, living in this new place, managing my time, and of course, figuring out those things that come with settling and living away from home.”

As for the future, Maria has three years ahead to decide. For the time being, she seems happy to make the most of her experiences as they come.

“Honestly I couldn't have planned to be here two years ago. I feel that the best things are super serendipitous. When you're on the right path, whatever you want to call it, your purpose, it all lines up for you. I think my future is going to be very people focused. You meet the right people at the right time, and things will happen. Of course, you have to show that you want it and put that continuous effort in. But if you love it, then it's not going to be hard to do that.”