Eric Woo is the first member of his family to attend university. He is motivated by a passion for different cultures, gratitude for the opportunities he has been given, and a quiet self-confidence instilled by a perceptive high school maths teacher.
“I was lazy and unmotivated during my early high school years. But my Year 10 maths tutor pointed out the opportunities that I was wasting. He set me on a path of academic discipline and physical fitness.
“I realised that my parents were working full-time in labouring jobs that took a considerable toll on their bodies —and their free time — to provide two younger sisters and me with a good education and a good life.
“Showing gratitude to my parents by earning a scholarship to study at the University of Melbourne became my priority in my final years of high school. I studied day in and day out in Year 12 to ensure they would not have to support me financially once I began university. My tutor’s advice was ultimately the reason I am here today.”
Eric’s undergraduate study is supported by a First in Family Scholarship provided by donors who wish to enable more Bachelor of Commerce students who are the first generation in their family to go to university.
“The First in Family Scholarship had an immense impact not only for me, but also my family. It has freed us up to focus on the things that really matter. It has also and equipped me with the conviction I need to truly make an impact in the world,” says Eric.
He has continued to seize every opportunity available through the University of Melbourne, particularly for overseas study exchange and the chance to experience the world.
“In my first year, I completed a summer subject at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University where I spent several weeks immersed in learning about Asian business and economics. This was a hugely inspirational experience for my future career.”
Shortly after, Eric travelled to the Philippines where he worked on a consulting project in Manila for the Melbourne Microfinance Initiative — a student-run organisation that provides consulting services to institutions working with communities in need.
In his second year Eric travelled to the University of Southern California, Los Angeles for a semester where he “fell in love” with San Francisco and set a new personal goal of “one day working in venture capital alleviating global poverty”.
“I want to pursue my passion for artificial intelligence and be at the forefront of technology that will make the world a better place,” he says.
Currently in his third and final undergraduate year at the University of Melbourne, Eric is completing his last semester at Beijing’s Tsinghua University before returning to Australia to take up a position as a Graduate Investment Banking Analyst at Macquarie Capital in 2018.
“Coming to the University of Melbourne was the best decision I ever made. The opportunity to come here on a scholarship has equipped me with the curiosity, courage and confidence to step out and discover the world. To my donors, I thank you with all of my heart.”