Inspiring International Women's Day scholarship winners

* ART CELEBRATING WOMEN

TWO inspiring young women were on Friday given the honour of being named joint winners of the Bega Valley Shire International Women’s Day Scholarship.

Mikayla Larkham from Pambula and Kieran Hay of Cobargo were both worthy winners and “we couldn’t decide between them” said BVSC’s Emma Benton, leading to the dual presentation.

The scholarship recipients were named at the official opening of the International Women’s Day art exhibition at Bega’s Spiral Gallery on Friday.

Mikayla, 18, is a recent graduate from Eden Marine High School, where she was vice-captain.

She said it had been a particularly difficult year as she missed eight weeks with glandular fever.

“It means a lot to know you have a whole town behind you to help achieve your dreams,” Mikayla said of her scholarship.

She said she planned to study university courses on nutrition online this year so she could stay in the area, while looking towards a psychology degree at the University of Wollongong in 2015.

“I’d like to offer high school students and young people free clinics on eating disorders.”

Kieran has recently returned home to the Valley after completing a degree in criminology in Canberra.

She said she is now working for a Masters in social work and that the scholarship money would be going towards that study.

“I would love to stay local and give back to the community that gives and gives,” Kieran said.

“I’d also like to thank my mum and grandma who taught me there is nothing more fearful than an independent woman!”

A large crowd enjoyed drinks and nibblies at the exhibition opening, which is being hosted by the Southern Women’s Group and Bega’s Women’s Resource Centre.

WRC coordinator Gabrielle Powell opened the exhibition, saying it was a great pleasure to talk about the IWD 2014 theme of “inspiring change”.

In her seven years at the WRC, Ms Powell said she had been fortunate to be able to offer a space to foster contacts and inspire women with regular activities and workshops.

“It’s a nurturing, creative space for women,” she said.

“A space where women can gain confidence, grow and flourish with new skills and knowledge.”

Wendy Hunter from the Southern Women’s Group collective also spoke at the opening, saying women should be proud of their achievements.

“Own being a feminist, greenie, leftist or whatever is in you – and be an inspirer of change,” Ms Hunter said.

“What are you going to do to make a difference?”

The exhibition features the work of 25 local artists and runs at Spiral Gallery until March 19.

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