Woman of the Year

UOW employee named Wollongong Woman of the Year

Aged only 26 at the time, life for Rebecca Lachlan (nee Schmidt) changed forever one fateful day in March 2008.

It was at this stage in her life that Rebecca, who worked as an Administration Officer and was active in a range of sports including as a netball coach, suffered a blood clot to the brain stem resulting in a stroke.

Rebecca, who has an administrative role with UOW’s Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI), more than rose to the challenge culminating in her officially being named Wollongong Electorate Woman of the Year at a special breakfast ceremony in Sydney yesterday (8 March).

Member for Wollongong Paul Scully presented Rebecca with the award today (9 March) at UOW’s Innovation Campus.

When Rebecca awakened from her stroke, eye movement was her only response. She spent the next seven and a half months in hospital followed by two and a half years of rehabilitation.

Despite this setback, Rebecca is a StrokeSafe Ambassador for the Stroke Foundation Australia and is also a Board Member of the StrokeSafe Consumer Council and assists with Stroke Week and Stride4Stroke.

Along with her work schedule at UOW she volunteers with the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women in the Illawarra and also advocates for the Unanderra Access Group assisting in the campaign for lift access to Unanderra train station. Rebecca set up an online petition for this group on change.org in 2015.

Mr Scully, who grew up in Mount Kembla, has been dedicated to assisting the lift access cause by pitching Rebecca’s case to the State Government.

Rebecca said she was very honoured and humbled to have been chosen for the award.

“It just goes to show that hard work does pay off in the end,” she said.

Donna Byham works very closely with Rebecca. She said: “We are so pleased and proud that Rebecca has been recognised for her achievements. Rebecca is very committed and hard-working and has a never-give-up attitude.”

Jacqui Capell, who has been mentoring Rebecca during her time at AHSRI, said it was a real pleasure working with Rebecca.

“She has a wonderfully upbeat and positive outlook on life alongside a good sense of humour. Bec has a great work ethic and is always willing to engage in conversation about her work tasks. This award is well deserved and we are very proud of her.”


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