AVCAT Scholar – Kimberley Luty

The Long Tan Bursary has changed everything for me. It gives me breathing room financially and lightens the burden that was always competing with university priorities.

By Kimberley Luty

My story is not like most AVCAT scholars’ stories. I have two sons, aged 16 and 20, and I turn 40 in June. My veteran father was not a positive influence on my life, after the Vietnam War he was an abusive alcoholic. I remember things I should be too young to remember.

The credit for my strength and perseverance through everything that came my way comes from my mum, who escaped that nightmare with three children and survived all the reappearances he made in our lives growing up. She even managed to send me to a private high school which opened doors to my academic potential.

I was enrolled to study commercial law, twice, but both times I had babies instead. I worked my way into a successful career as a procurement manager, leading and mentoring a large team. I was a single mum and a fit martial artist for seven years. I taught women’s self-defence and kickboxing. I was six months away from achieving a black belt in Krav Maga when my life imploded. I became chronically ill with Fibromyalgia and a nasty autoimmune disease.

My diagnosis was confronting and life-changing. It meant the loss of the career I had worked so hard on. And the loss of other activities I enjoyed, including my martial arts training at a relatively young age. It was devastating and resulted in a significant reassessment of my whole life and consideration of what was next.

Choosing not to let my chronic illnesses define me, I reflected on this as an opportunity to pursue a long-term goal that I am passionate about, even if it meant it would be a challenge. I wanted to be a high school science teacher. I consulted with my medical team, and they confirmed that this should be manageable for me to achieve if the recommended strategies are implemented.

The biggest challenges for me right now are studying full-time at university, with the goal of becoming a part-time teacher, and the financial strain a continued lack of income would have on supporting my family. The Long Tan Bursary has changed everything for me. It gives me breathing room financially and lightens the burden that was always competing with university priorities.

In my first year of university, I was awarded the Chancellor’s Letter for being in the top 5% of my program. This year, due to significant family events and stress, including my son being diagnosed with Dysautonomia with POTS, I have been fighting to pass as my health has become unstable. I will not give up on my studies. Life has taught me this is just a season.

I hope to become an inspiring teacher and focus on making stressful senior school years a more enjoyable experience for students. I want to find ways to make science more interesting and help my students achieve success. I want to encourage female students to study STEM subjects and support them in realising that while life will put hurdles in their path, they can survive, succeed, and thrive.

Kimberley was awarded the Long Tan Bursary in 2023.

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