Annie Nichols, right, and fellow student, Jo - both preparing to walk the wall!

Annie Nichols, right, and fellow student, Jo – both preparing to walk the wall!


A group of 16 University of Newcastle (UON) graduates, staff, students and community supporters are putting their bodies on the line and tackling disadvantage by taking on a major physical challenge for charity.The team will be walking 50 kilometres of the Great Wall of China in the University’s 50th year in an attempt to raise over $50,000 for the University’s ‘Shaping Futures Scholarships’ which help support UON students facing hardship or challenges.

Physiotherapy student, Annie Nichols, is herself a former Shaping Futures Scholarship recipient. Annie is taking part in the trek and raising funds to ensure that other disadvantaged students can be supported as she was.

“In my later years of school my family became one of the statistics of those affected by mental illness and domestic violence. Struggles that continue today, along with financial difficulties. This scholarship was ‘a light at the end of a tunnel’ that has made a huge difference for both myself and my family, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

“But there are so many students whose lives can be turned around and given the chance of education with this assistance. I wouldn’t be where I am now without this help, and my hope is that many more students can have this same opportunity.”

Professor Richard Dunford, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Business and Law and Gail White, UON Academic Registrar, are also taking part in the challenge.

“We believe that embarking on an adventure in a country where we hold such close ties is a great fit especially as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. We have formed many partnerships in China and 80 per cent of our international students come from this nation,” said Professor Dunford.

“As a graduate along with many members of my family, and as a long standing member of staff, I’m proud of my connection to UON. As a student I had the support of a scholarship and free education so I want to give back to support students of the future,” said Ms White.

UON Director of Alumni and Philanthropy, Rebecca Hazell said the ‘China Walk Champions’ know that every step they make will help bring a disadvantaged student one step closer to achieving their degree and their dreams.

“While most university students do it tough, working as well as studying, some students struggle more than others. Some of our students face challenges such as health problems and disabilities, financial hardship, carer responsibilities and family problems or even a combination of these issues,” Ms Hazell said.

“We want to help students who are most in need to succeed at university because we know how the gift of education can change lives.”

To support the volunteers in the UON Great China Walk visit or you can visit Annie’s sponsorship page here.

You can support the Champions of Change on their Great China Walk Facebook page and stay up to date with fundraising events.


Great China Walk fundraising event.

Great China Walk fundraising event.