Sheldrake scholarships support nursing and teaching dreams

Julie Sheldrake wants to make life easier for students.

Three Nurses The Dorothy Jean Ineke Scholarships in Education and Nursing are the result. Julie named the scholarships as a tribute to her mother, who died in 2011.

“Mum always wanted me to make my own decisions and provided general encouragement,” she says.

“She didn’t have many possibilities herself, because she grew up in the Great Depression and didn’t have a wealthy family, meaning she was expected to go out and earn a living at the end of her schooling.”

Dorothy Sheldrake (nee Ineke) faced further hardships. Her husband died young, forcing Dorothy to run his chain of butchers and abattoirs, while also raising two young children. Her financial situation only improved after she remarried.

Ms Sheldrake benefited from these later advantages and credits her mother and stepfather for their support. She believes now is the time to give back and has honoured her mother accordingly through a scholarship program in both nursing and education. Her interest in nursing reflects her professional experience.

“I enjoyed nursing, but it was very hard work,” she says.

“I was at the Alfred Hospital, which was such a big and busy hospital that it entailed a lot of responsibility for a young person.”

Julie’s nursing took her to Townsville, where she began to specialise her professional knowledge and expanded her general knowledge – part of a lifelong fascination with education.

“I spent a couple of very cold winters in England, after which I decided to head somewhere warm and landed in Queensland,” she recalls.

“I did my midwifery in Townsville, then decided to go to university the next year at James Cook University, where I did a fairly wide range of subjects – law, psychology, early childhood education and Australian history.”

Julie’s knowledge became more specialised upon returning to Melbourne, where she became a renal nurse at Royal Melbourne Hospital. She remained in this specific field for the rest of her career, becoming the Hospital’s dialysis centre manager and dialysis coordinator for Victoria’s regional hospitals.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital also led her to an association with the University of Melbourne, where she helped run a postgraduate certificate in renal nursing. There were times in her career when study and work coincided.

“I always had to work alongside my postgraduate nursing studies, as there were no scholarships,” she says.

“Working while studying was just part of life.”

While nursing was a natural focus for support, Julie also established scholarships for teaching students at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.

“Education marks the beginning of a person’s development and is a theme that continues through people’s lives,” she says.

“But it’s hard to progress without good teachers, who are amazing people – they make a massive difference that isn’t always acknowledged.”

Student fees have however outstripped income, a fact that Julie readily acknowledges.

“It certainly didn’t cost me anything like as much as it does now to complete my postgraduate certificate,’ she says.

“I think generally it’s much, much more difficult now for people to afford these degrees.”

Julie’s decision to give to Melbourne derived from both a pre-existing connection and an awareness of the work of Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne.

“The wide campaign advertising made it easy to decide upon giving to Melbourne, because I could ring up and have a direct line to someone,” she says.

“Melbourne has a good reputation and some prestige throughout Australia.”

Julie believes scholarships will make a real difference to people’s lives.

“I believe scholarships help people continue their education when financially they might not have been able to do so,” she says.

“Hopefully giving scholarships makes people’s lives a bit easier while they are studying.”