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Scholarship gives Jaimee-Lee a positive charge

It would be fair to say Jaimee-Lee Hesse’s life has been in fast-forward – 4.30am wake up, gym, study, uni, work, go to bed – repeat.

There is a lot of life to cram into 24-hours and Jaimee-Lee uses every minute, juggling the work / study routine, to keep her grades up and a roof over her head.

A gifted Bachelor of Forensics student, Jaimee-Lee gives her all and with the help of a Griffith Futures Scholarship, is now a step closer to becoming the first person in her family to get a degree.

“I was so relieved, so happy! I called my Mum and she said oh my gosh that’s amazing, I think she said amazing seven times in the one phone call.”

The scholarship will buy Jaimee-Lee textbooks and most importantly give her peace of mind.

She no longer worries about whether she can complete the research component of her course next trimester and is even considering applying for her masters.

“Research subjects take a lot of time and the scholarship allows me to do that comfortably without becoming homeless.”

Working at a pizza café most nights, Jaimee-Lee has halved the number of shifts she works to comfortably pay the bills, something she has been doing since she moved out of home at 17.

A difficult family situation led Jaimee-Lee to make the decision to leave her home town in rural New South Wales and drop out of her senior year at high school.

At the time, Jaimee-Lee would never have imagined a life where she was a third-year science student at Griffith University, but her childhood dream to become a forensic scientist pushed her to get her high school diploma.

“I always knew I wanted to be in the sciences, either a doctor or forensic scientist but I put if off for a long time,” she said.

“I never really had confidence in myself to do science degree. I didn’t have a very positive experience at school and felt like I wasn’t capable, but I am, I’m very capable.”

Jaimee-Lee recalled she was about nine when her passion for forensic science first started.

She used to watch the crime channel and thought using scientific evidence to give a family closure as a victim of crime or in a disaster would be a good way to help people.

“I always knew what I wanted to do, I always said I’m going to be a forensic scientist and that’s going to be my life. It sparked a little fire inside me.”

That same spark saw Jaimee-Lee through a few false starts, including a year studying a degree in social work and a couple of years working full-time at Subway in Indooroopilly.

“I was very unhappy, I thought ‘this can’t be the rest of my life’, but I always had a drive to achieve more.”

Jaimee-Lee’s decision to study forensics at Griffith University transformed her life and like the scholarship accelerated her goal to become a forensic scientist.

In the short term she is thinking about a career in policing or at Queensland Health.

But her dream job is to work for the Innocence Project in the United States, an organisation helping to exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA and the legal system.

“I’m so very grateful for the opportunity the scholarship has given me,” she said

“It’s going to allow me to focus more on my study and less on having to pay the bills.

“There were some weeks where I had to choose between work and study and paying my rent, it was very stressful.”

While the scholarship has helped to remove Jaimee-Lee’s financial stress, it has also validated her decision to pursue an education and her passion.

“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication but once you’ve found something you’re passionate about, go for it, go for it as hard as you can.”