Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

The sky’s the limit for one of this year’s Rural Scholarship recipients

Keep following the Pacific Highway northwest of Gosford, and you’ll find yourself in Somersby – home to the Australian Reptile Park and perhaps more notably, Tim Gallagher: one of this year’s recipients of Warrane’s Rural Scholarship.

Don’t let his surname fool you – as it turns out, Campbelltown-born Tim is only half Irish (compliments of his dad). His mum, on the other hand, is half Maltese and half Egyptian. What a cool combination!

“It’s different,” says Tim, who visited Egypt and Malta when he was 10, as well as Italy and Dubai.

Maybe it’s his diverse background that has Tim studying Aviation Management at UNSW, with hopes of eventually joining an airline (he likes the idea of Emirates) as a pilot. Currently in the first year of his three-year degree, he plans to follow up with a graduate diploma in flying to complete his studies.

“I’ve just always wanted to be a pilot, pretty much,” says Tim. “I don’t remember a time that I didn’t.”

With 10 hours of flying experience up his sleeve, Tim makes it sound simple – but perhaps he’s just being modest. “It’s a lot easier than driving a car, actually – surprisingly. You don’t really have to pay attention – well, you need to pay attention to where you’re going – but you don’t need to look out for anyone else as much. Once you’re in the air, the plane basically sets itself up. If you hit turbulence, it readjusts itself.”

And if he didn’t want to be a pilot? “I’m really interested in physics,” says Tim. “If I wasn’t a pilot, I’d probably become a physicist…Maybe get into nuclear physics? I think that would be interesting.”

But sciences aren’t Tim’s only interests – every weekend, when he heads home to Somersby to see his parents and his 14-year old brother, there’s plenty more to get into.

“I play the drums and I’m in a band…suppose you’d call it psychedelic rock…” says Tim. “Other than that, [hobbies include] riding my motorbike; building billy carts with my dad and brother. We’re actually running a billy cart derby coming up soon; it’s great fun!”

Plus he’s pretty passionate about rugby league; he cheers for the Dragons.

How about the most rewarding thing he’s ever done? “In high school,” says Tim, “we went on a Year 12 retreat where we went into Sydney and learnt about the homeless youth. And that was pretty eye-opening.”

“We got to help them out a little bit; we spent some time with them… [learnt] about what percentage of homeless people are actually youth in Australia, and it’s surprisingly quite high. And it can pretty much happen to anyone at any time – like some of the kids there came from some pretty wealthy families; they just had a bit of a bad turn of events and ended up on the streets unfortunately.”

Luckily for Tim, it sounds like he comes from a really tight-knit family. They’ve been through some rough patches – Tim cites the hardest thing he’s ever done as being there for and looking after his brother, years ago when his mother got seriously sick. Thankfully she’s in good health now.

As for who inspires him – that goes to his dad and his pops. “They’ve always seemed to know more than me, and been able to help me get through tough times,” says Tim. “They’ve always just been there for me, and that’s what I aim to do with hopefully my family in the future.”

When asked about advice for anyone else who’s keen to get a scholarship, Tim says it’s just about keeping an eye out. “Just look around ‘cause there’s plenty of opportunities for scholarships… They’re not too hard to find as long as you look… And apply for pretty much anything that you’re able to.”