This month we sat down with Scott Hoare, a ParaQuad member and one of this year’s scholarship winners. We spoke about Scott’s studies and staying motivated through challenges. 

Can you tell me a little about what you’re studying at the moment and what your ParaQuad scholarship went towards?

Of course, so broadly, it’s going towards my bachelor of psychology. It’s a six-year degree split over three parts; there’s the undergrad, your honours and then your masters. I’m currently doing my final year of my undergrad, but I hope to continue my studies and eventually specialise in organisational psychology. This is essentially the psychology of the workplace and is applied in all sorts of situations, particularly in high-stress workplaces. Right now, I’m researching resilience in the military. 

What was it that drove you to look specifically into the military?

So, It all started from a class I took in my first year where one of my professors talked about a grant she’d received from the Australian Government to research resilience and organisational psychology within the military. I was really drawn to the high-stress, high-performance environment and ended up going to another one of her seminars in Canberra, at the Australian Defence Force Academy. It was phenomenal. I approached her and asked if I could be her research assistant; she said yes, and the rest is history. Last week, I was told that I’d be a co-author on my first paper, which is a huge deal.

That’s amazing; congratulations! How are you finding your study this year?

So, you’ve got to average a high distinction across your degree if you want to get into the Master’s program because it’s so competitive. This is something that the scholarship helped with because I’ve been able to work with a tutor to help me with my written work, which was an area I recognised I needed help in. She helped me understand how to write within psychology because it’s very specific, and I’ve been able to flip my grades around. Now my writing is one of my strongest points. You know, these academic hurdles are really high, and I don’t think I’d be at this point and co-authoring this paper if I couldn’t get that bit of help.

Yeah, I can imagine there would be a lot of pressure to keep up your grades while also working.

Yeah, and being a quadriplegic, you know, that takes a lot of effort every day. But I don’t feel the pressure that much because I don’t even see not achieving it as an option. It may sound strange, but I really just focus on what I need to do to get to where I want to be. And that’s how things like the tutor came about. The scholarship alleviated a lot of stress and opened a few doors for me. 

I’ve also just upgraded a lot of my technical equipment at home, which has been helpful. So, I have everything I need set up at home to write during lectures and meetings efficiently. It’s pretty exciting because I just got a microphone and a trackball mouse, so I can listen to my lectures in my headphones and talk into my microphone to take notes. Now, I don’t have to keep pausing the lecture to take my notes, and I can be much more efficient. Hopefully, I’ve got years of study ahead of me because I’m enjoying it so much, and I feel like I’ve found a great opportunity here.

How do you find motivation for all of your study? 

When you have an accident like I had, considering a fruitful life ahead of you can be difficult, and it’s easy to lose hope. It’s easy to imagine a life with many physical challenges, and it’s hard to think beyond that. So, every time I’m mentally challenged by an assignment or find something hard, I switch my thinking and then find it rewarding because I didn’t think I’d even have that again. 

This is what keeps me motivated; knowing that I’m continuously learning and growing. Also, my wife and I are trying to start a family, so it’s easier for me to stay motivated in my studies and work towards the life I want to lead. Things like this scholarship help take off that extra pressure and focus on doing what I need to do to succeed academically and chase the profession I want.