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A generous gift leads to a perfect score

Gerald Loughran's two children were born with the caring gene: Alison is a neonatologist, a doctor that cares for newborn babies, and David is a carer.

But their desire to help others extends beyond the bedside, back to where so many of life’s lessons begin: in the classroom.

The Loughran family hail from the North West Coast.

As Alison spent six years in Hobart studying medicine they were familiar with the financial and emotional strain that students face when they must travel from one tip of the island to another.

That’s why Gerald and his children set up The Loughran Family Scholarship: to ease the burden on students who need to travel to study health.

Kelcie Miller can claim a few firsts.

When she left picturesque Penguin to complete a Bachelor of Medical Research in Hobart- she was the first in her family to study at university.

She was also the first recipient of The Loughran Family Scholarship in 2015.

When she graduated last year, the alumna had a special request. Could she invite her donors- the Loughran family- to attend the ceremony?

When Gerald received the invitation, his response was instant.

“I wouldn’t have missed it," Gerald said.

“I felt privileged to be part of such a momentous occasion in Kelcie’s life."

Joining her friends and family at the Federation Concert Hall in Hobart, Gerald heard Kelcie deliver the valedictory address. She spoke of the challenges many students had overcome to reach their goals.

“These sacrifices may have been financial. They may have been social. Some have moved away from their homes, from their friends and families, many have sacrificed a great deal of sleep.

She is proud of her persistence, determination and willingness to succeed, which she will carry with her throughout her life.

When Kelcie’s family met Gerald for the first time they were strangers, but they bonded instantly, marvelling at her success. There were firm handshakes, words of thanks and a shared sense of pride.

“I was so grateful that Gerald came to the graduation: his support has been invaluable,” Kelcie said.

Being able to spend less time worrying about finances has meant that Kelcie could focus on her studies. The result? A perfect score consisting of straight High Distinctions.

“I’m so proud, I worked really hard and it has paid off," Kelcie said.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Kelcie’s focus has already moved to the future. She is fascinated by the science behind medicine and how this can be harnessed to improve lives.

This year she will start her honours in epidemiology, which involves looking at the risk factors of disease in different populations and how we may be able to reduce those risks.

“I’m very interested in physical activity and how it can improve health,” she said.

While Kelcie was the first person in her family to attend university, the desire to make a difference has rubbed off on her siblings.

“My younger sister is almost finished her degree in paramedicine and my other sister is about to start tertiary studies in teaching,” she said.

For Gerald, it is a great source of pride to see how his family’s gift is making a tangible difference in the lives of students.

“It’s much more difficult for students who have to leave home to study, particularly those from the North West Coast, and it’s just fantastic to know that we can make it an easier transition.”

“Being able to see scholars like Kelcie contribute to medical research that will improve the way we live our lives is incredibly rewarding. It’s a real privilege.”

Published on: 15 Oct 2020 9:41pm