They're six remarkable women, achieving much in the areas of sport, business, creative arts, indigenous issues, volunteer work and medical research.

And each of the six recipients of the 2018 Illawarra International Women’s Day scholarships have themselves been inspired by other women in their fields.

Women like those their awards are named after – who are no longer with us. Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kerryn McCann; Aboriginal Elder Aunty Mary Davis, dedicated volunteer Beryl Lewis; businesswoman Cate Stevenson.

And this year, Wollongong doctor and breast cancer awareness advocate Dr Margaret Gardiner’s legacy will also be honoured, with a new scholarship for medical research in her name.

Find out about each of the scholarship recipients; and what they plan to do with their $2000 grant:

Aunty Mary Scholarship for Indigenous Women: SELAI STORER

As a single mother of four young children, Selai Storer felt isolated – but attending a Barnardos supported playgroup helped her connect with her community.

Now the proud Koori woman is helping others do the same, as the facilitator of Barnardos playgroups across the South Coast.

“I have developed a love of learning and I really want to share that with others,” she said, “especially families who are the most disadvantaged, including local Aboriginal families.”

Ms Storer will use her scholarship to attend training on the Abecedarian Approach to early learning. “The approach looks at how best to reinforce learning at home as well as positive interactions between parents and children,” she said.

Dr Margaret Gardiner Scholarship for Medical Research: Dr KARA VINE-PERROW

A family history of breast cancer has driven Dr Vine-Perrow’s passion to make a difference through medical research.

She is a group leader at the Targeted Cancer Therapeutics Research Laboratory at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute.

“The idea is to create a drug delivery system that’s able to specifically release the drug at the desired site,” Dr Vine-Perrow said.

“So with pancreatic cancer, we’re designing an implantable device to deliver high concentrations of the drug locally to reduce toxicity.

“With breast cancer, we’re looking at an injection of nanoparticles that are engineered to seek out breast cancer cells and destroy them, while leaving healthy cells untouched.”

Dr Vine-Perrow will use her scholarship to present her research at a conference in Portugal in June.

Creative Spirit Scholarship for Women: NATALIE GARTSHORE

An enthusiastic member of The Disability Trust’s creative programs, Natalie Gartshore will explore new performance opportunities with her scholarship.

The 19-year-old, who has Down Syndrome, moved with her family from Mount Isa five years ago, to get the support she needed.

Since then she’s been able to take advantage of The Disability Trust’s creative, social and recreational programs - including the popular Music Makers group.

“People with a disability should join groups like this that give every one a chance to feel special,” she said.

Beryl Lewis Scholarship for Older Women: JOSEPHINE MASON

Josephine Mason started volunteering with Wollongong council’s dementia respite program 12 years ago – and has no plans to stop.

The former nurse acts as a friend, chauffeur, counsellor, cook and confidant to those “who don’t have much contact with society”.

“I’ve met some wonderful people who’ve lived fascinating lives,” she said.

“Dementia can cause them to forget, to be confused ... but then you get glimpses of their former selves and it’s just brilliant.” Ms Mason will use the

IWD scholarship to keep up her good work. “I do what I do because I love it, not for accolades. That said, I’m very grateful.”

Cate Stevenson Scholarship for Women (Education, Business & Community Service): JESSICA FAUSTINI

As an environmental science cadet with Wollongong council, Jessica Faustini is able to indulge her passion for the outdoors.

The 27-year-old undertook an electrical apprenticeship in the mining industry before landing her dream job.

She’s thrilled with the scholarship which she hopes to use to take part in the Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia program.

“I want to continue working with council in a role that not only helps preserve the environment, but helps the community to embrace and interact with it,” she said.

Kerryn McCann Scholarship for Sports: STEPHANIE POWER.

Illawarra athlete Stephanie Power has achieved a lot since she started competing just four years ago.

The Illawarra Blue Stars female sprinter of the year in 2015 and 2016 now has her sights set on national, and international glory.

“My ambitions in this sport are to make an Australian Representative team as a 100m / 200m sprinter or relay team member ... and hopefully compete at the 2020 Olympics,” she said. “I also wish to show people that it is never to late to start a sport and find a new passion in life.”

The IWD scholarship will help with competition costs.

(This article was first published in the Illawarra Mercury, Wollongong NSW and was written by Lisa Wachsmuth.)

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