Damien Ward – with Appreciation

Damien Ward – with Appreciation
Melinda Smith with Damien and 2015 scholarship recipient Vanessa.

In 2007, with the introduction of the MSN Educational Scholarships Program, two students were awarded scholarships for study during 2008. Damien immediately took on the role of managing the program and at that time the task may not have seemed not too great. However, in 2018 26 students received a scholarship bringing the total number of recipients over 11 years to 175. The students have come from across the Hunter region (Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Upper Hunter, Cessnock, Dungog and Muswellbrook and Damien visited each one of them at their school during the year of their award; giving them his personal attention.

Under Damien’s stewardship the scholarship year began the previous year with Damien and his committee making the call for applications. This was followed by the creation of an interview list, the interview and then (perhaps his most rewarding task) a call to each recipient just before Christmas to notify them of their success. Contact was maintained during the scholarship year from the orientation of new recipients, to the scholarship presentation ceremony and the mid-year reporting. But that wasn’t all. Throughout the year Damien would call the students to check on how things were going and provide support where needed. Annually he would try to call all past students for an update on their lives.

Damien’s ongoing hard work and dedication to the scholarship recipients has had an immeasurable impact on the success of the scholarships program and, more importantly, on the educational accomplishments of the many recipients. His decision this year, that after eleven years with the program it was time to step down was met with disappointment and sadness, and great appreciation for all those years during which he voluntarily led the scholarships program. Thank you Damien for all your contributions and passions to support a great cause.