Dr Melanie Denney began her career as a research scientist but soon discovered that it was teaching science that was her true passion. With help from the Invergowrie Foundation she was able to complete a Graduate Diploma of Education and is now teaching year 12 students at John Monash Science School.
Dr Denney was awarded the Invergowrie Foundation McPherson Family Education Scholarship for Women in 2012. The aim of the scholarship is to promote teacher education and the teaching of science. The Invergowrie Foundation offers two generous scholarships of $5000 each year to high achieving female students about to embark on a teaching career.
Dr Denney completed her undergraduate and PhD courses in chemistry at the University of Tasmania and then undertook postdoctoral studies in the USA before returning to Australia to work as a scientist with the CSIRO and the fine chemicals industry (Boron Molecular).
“I enjoyed working in industry but I did not see myself doing it in the long term. I did some soul searching about what I did want to do and decided that it was secondary teaching,” Dr Denney said.
“When I was at university I enjoyed lab demonstrating, tutoring and lecturing. The one-on-one interaction was what drew me to secondary teaching. There is a sense of achievement that I get every day when I am teaching. I am helping young people achieve their dreams.”
“I applied for the Invergowrie scholarship because it was specifically for women in science. I have always been interested in encouraging women in science. At the moment it feels like chemistry and particularly physics do not have an even representation of men and women. It’s important to show girls that they can study science, have a family and enjoy all of it.”
“Undertaking further study would have been extremely challenging without the scholarship. Returning to full-time study with two pre-school aged children came with a number of challenges including pressure on time and finances. The scholarship helped to alleviate some of the cost of child care which allowed me precious, uninterrupted time to spend on study and assignments,” Dr Denney said.
Dr Denney chose to undertake her Graduate Diploma of Education at Monash University because she knew that Monash’s reputation would mean that her qualification would be well received. She also noted that having an association with an organisation like The Invergowrie Foundation was a bonus when job hunting.
Through its philanthropy, The Invergowrie Foundation has been advancing the education of girls and women within Victoria since it was established in 1992 and the McPherson Family Education Scholarship, named in recognition of Invergowrie’s benefactor, William McPherson, has been offered at Monash University since 2002. “Anyone considering setting up a scholarship should understand that they will help someone achieve their dream,” Dr Denney said.