NSWIS athletes among AIS Education Scholarship recipients

Posted on December 16, 2021 by

Eight NSWIS athletes among a total of 37 athletes selected from 19 sports and 21 tertiary institutions who have been awarded more than $100,000 in AIS Education Scholarships, a program supporting athletes to be successful in sport, education, and life.

Winter Olympics silver medallist Matt Graham, Olympic bronze medal rower Cameron Girdlestone and four-time world cycling champion Kaarle McCulloch are among the NSWIS athletes receiving this round of AIS Education Scholarships. A key feature of this year’s expanded program is supporting athletes with education earlier in their high performance sporting careers. More than three-quarters of athletes awarded scholarships in this round are categorised as ‘Developing’ or ‘Emerging’, the first two steps on an Australian athlete’s journey to becoming an international medallist.

The AIS Education Scholarship program is doubling from last year’s inaugural program and offering a total of $200,000 in scholarships for 2021-22, thanks to support from the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation. A second round will open in March 2022.

Mr. Wylie, former Chair of the Australian Sports Commission, said “sport and education is a winning mix. Every athlete goes into competition with a game-plan, this program with the AIS is about helping more Australian athletes to pursue education as part of their broader life plan. Every athlete receiving one of these grants has talents beyond the sporting arena, you just have to look at the breadth of education courses they’re undertaking. There’s health education like paramedics, speech pathology, sonography, and medicine, though to diverse areas such as science, commerce, design, engineering and so much more.

“Our message to athletes is sporting success doesn’t have to be at the sacrifice of other ambitions, especially education and career pathways. If we can encourage more athletes to engage with education at the start of their sporting careers, we’ll no doubt have more successful leaders emerging from sport and into their communities.”

NSWIS has long been committed to providing guidance, support, resources, and education, with a dedicated Athlete Wellbeing & Engagement team (AW&E) assisting NSWIS athletes to make informed decisions that impact their performance in both sport and life.

Olympic silver medallist and mogul skier Matt Graham will begin 2022 aiming for another Winter Games podium, then hopes to finish it by completing a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and business. Matt has been studying since 2014, the same year he debuted at his first Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“For me, pursuing higher education isn’t just about preparing for life after sport, it also provides me with a mental switch to focus on something different away from the sport. That gives me good balance and adds to my motivation to train,” Matt said.

“I always looked up to my older brother as a kid because he studied a Bachelor’s degree while also managing his sporting career as an elite Mogul Skier. I have always tried to show younger athletes that their education is important and that there is more to life beyond sport”.

21-year-old swimmer Tahlia Blanshard, who narrowly missed qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, now aims to balance her commitments studying a degree of Health Science alongside her training commitments, hopeful to qualify for the Paris 2024 Games.

“I believe that studying Health Science has helped to improve me both as an athlete, and as a person, and I hope to encourage more people, especially disabled athletes, to pursue a tertiary education,” Tahlia said.

The AIS has prioritised athlete education and created more specialised athlete support by building its Elite Athlete Education Network (EAEN) across the country. NSWIS aims to support this network and continue to engage in athlete opportunities through its’ AW&E team.

AIS CEO Peter Conde said: “The AIS now has formal links with more than 40 universities and 12 TAFEs, giving Australian athletes greater choice and flexibility with their education support. Our priority is to support those athletes who demonstrate a genuine commitment to study and can use their own experiences to inspire and benefit others, in sport and the broader community.”


NSWIS congratulates the eight athletes who are recipients of the AIS Education Scholarship:

  • Aimee Fisher: Athletics Australia, Central Queensland University, B. Medical Sonography/Graduate Diploma Medical Sonography
  • Amelia Quinlan: Australian Sailing, The University of New South Wales, Bachelor Actuarial Studies (Co-op)
  • Cameron Girdlestone: Rowing Australia, University of Western Sydney, Graduate Diploma in Property Investment
  • Kaarle McCulloch: AusCycling, Charles Sturt University, Bachelor of Education Health and Physical Education
  • Kira Ward: Gymnastics Australia, Australian College of Physical Education, B. Education (Physical & Health)
  • Matthew Graham: Snow Australia, University of Newcastle, Bachelor Civil Engineering (Honours)/B of Business
  • Olivia O’Rourke: Diving Australia, University of Technology Sydney Bachelor of Construction Project Management
  • Tahlia Blanshard: Swimming Australia, Australian College of Physical Education, B. Health Science (Exercise)


To find out more about the AIS Education Scholarship, visit https://www.ais.gov.au/career-and-education/ais-education-scholarship.


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