US-born Thomas Crawford spent only three of his 59 years in Tasmania but told friends that those three years studying at university were his happiest days. Indeed he dubbed Tasmania his “island of dreams”.
A central theme in Thomas’s life was a belief in the lasting value of a good education, so supporting other students to have the same opportunity that he did was a fitting focus of his generous bequest.
Thomas studied a Bachelor of Arts majoring in history in the sixties, but his interests were diverse. He was not prescriptive about what courses recipients of the scholarship in his name should pursue. The long-running scholarship has evolved over the years from a memorial scholarship assisting overseas students to study in Tasmania to one that is now also open to students from Tasmania and interstate. But the central wish remains the same, to support high-achieving school leavers further their education.
Current recipient Olive Anderson, who is in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Science and Engineering combined degree, is a shining example of someone for whom the scholarship has provided a springboard to further opportunity.
Olive was born in Tasmania, but her parents moved interstate during her schooling. Wishing to return for her university studies “because Tasmania is such a lovely place”, Olive applied for the scholarship, which she was awarded prior to commencing the first year of her combined degree. The scholarship assisted her to rent share housing and to focus on her studies without the demands of part-time work.
“I got High Distinctions across the board in my first year, which there is no way I would have got had I worked as well,” Olive said.
“Those grades also flowed into other opportunities, like attending conferences relating to the power industry. The scholarship has been a launching pad for everything else.”
Olive has an internship with Hydro Tasmania and last summer completed an internship at TasNetworks investigating the reliability of power systems in the north-west of Tasmania.
“I’m able to integrate my two degrees. The niche of engineering and statistics is hugely important in effectively managing power assets, which at the end of the day helps keep the lights on and the costs down,” she said.
“It’s pretty exciting change that is happening in the industry with the move towards renewables. It’s cool to be part of global-scale change. Big decisions are needing to be made about choosing the right technologies and managing them. Working anywhere in that space is exciting.”
Given her excellent grades, the University offered Olive the opportunity to add a fee-paid Bachelor of Philosophy to her power engineering and statistics undergraduate studies.
“So I can do learning for the sake of learning,” Olive, who is also an Australian Football Field Umpire, said.
Olive is currently focusing on developing her leadership and networking skills through the Australian Power Institute’s Early Career Leadership Program.
It is likely that Thomas Crawford, who kept a current Tasmanian driver's licence until his death in 1996, would have approved of Olive’s thirst for knowledge as well as her decision to move back to Tasmania, which was something he had always hoped to do.
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Image- Olive Anderson enjoying the Thomas Crawford Trail. As well as supporting students to further their studies, Thomas Crawford is memorialised in an enduring physical legacy: a 200-metre-long pathway in Sandy Bay through the Tasmanian environment he so enjoyed. Preserved are many threatened species and biological communities.