At 11:05am on Monday 12th August, my phone rang. Palo Alto, CA, United States – the location of the caller – this is it… Butterflies in my stomach, I steadied my hand enough to swipe to answer. “Hello, Brooke speaking?” The start of a life-changing phone call. John Hennessy, co-founder of the scholarship and former President of Stanford University, and Jeff Wachtel, executive director, phoned to invite me to be a part of the inaugural cohort of Knight-Hennessy Scholars – one of only 49 selected worldwide, and the only Australian.
Ecstatic is an understatement! This scholarship will provide me with full funding to undertake my PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford University. Course fees, living expenses, flights, all fully covered. By no means a low-valued scholarship! But more than that, the fellowship aims to prepare a new generation of leaders with the deep academic foundation and broad skill set needed to develop creative solutions for the world’s most complex challenges. The chance to collaborate with an outstanding, multi-disciplinary cohort of scholars, as well as receive personalised coaching and mentoring in the heart of silicon valley, is nothing less than surreal.
My interests lie in bio-electronics, bio-sensing and medical imaging, with a special interest in improving the widespread translation of engineering solutions in healthcare. I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to undertake my PhD at Stanford, working on cross-disciplinary research in a world-leading hub of innovation and translational research. Moving to the other side of the world is definitely a daunting prospect, but the amazing opportunity for profound self-growth, new knowledge and valuable networks, makes the excitement overpower these nerves.
Have I been dreaming of this since I was a little girl? Absolutely not! My journey to this point has not been without hurdles, sudden changes of direction and a lot of plain old serendipity. I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend some amazing events and have been guided by many fabulous mentors. The National Youth Science Forum was the first of these, where I was given the opportunity to be guided past misleading stereotypes and fall in love with electrical engineering. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of WiSEnet (now merged with Women in STEMM Australia) who financially helped to support my attendance at the International Science Summer School Heidelberg during my Year 12 studies. This trip played a huge part in my discovery of careers in engineering research and the later mentoring provided was hugely valuable in times of uncertainty, regarding university course selection. Special thanks also go out to everyone involved in Robogals Global, which proved fundamental in helping me find my confidence and a strong network of supportive peers.
I honestly never thought somewhere as famous as Stanford University would ever accept a dreamer like me from tiny old Perth. As a young girl, I never saw stories like this. My application seemed like such a shot in the dark, that they would never take me seriously. Never the less, you have to be in it to win it, so I worked very hard over more than a 12 month period to try to make myself competitive. I’m still getting over how well it paid off! I sincerely hope that by sharing my story, some girl out there will have the confidence to believe that if I can do it, then you can too. Come change the world with me!
About the author:
Brooke Krajancich completed her BPhil at The University of Western Australia (UWA) and has won a prestigious scholarship to complete a PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford University in the USA. WISENet (now merged with Women in STEMM Australia) supported her trip to the Heidelberg Summer School and some WiSENet members at UWA met her for lunch before she started at UWA.