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Melissa awarded Gabby Robberds Scholarship

Vanessa Lam

5 May 2015: A University of Canberra student has been awarded a scholarship in memory of a young girl with cerebral palsy, giving her the opportunity to help other children like her at a clinical placement at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Melissa Shurey, who is in her final year of a Master of Physiotherapy, said she was excited and grateful to receive the scholarship, which was founded in memory of two-year-old Gabrielle 'Gabby' Robberds who had cerebral palsy and passed away in 2010.

The scholarship includes a cash prize and support to undertake a five-week clinical placement at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Armidale, which Ms Shurey will begin this month.

"I'm really looking forward to working with the children, getting involved in their therapies and working with their families as well," she said.

Ms Shurey said she first became interested in working in paediatrics more than nine years ago after volunteering at an after school program for children with disability.

"It wasn't long after being involved that I started to realise that this is really something I enjoy and would really love to make a career out of it," she said.

Ms Shurey completed an undergraduate degree in human movement and graduate diploma in exercise rehabilitation and worked as an exercise physiologist at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne before deciding to return to university study to pursue a master's degree.

She said she was honoured to meet Gabby's family at a ceremony held at the University on 16 April, where she was presented with the scholarship by Cerebral Palsy Alliance patron Margaret Reid AO.

Gabby's father Craig Robberds said it was really positive to see students continuing to apply for the scholarship.

"Gabby loved her physio and it's very rewarding for me and our family to see that the money we've raised can go back into something that she really loved," he said.

The Robberds family is also preparing for this year's Raising A Smile fundraising dinner to be held at the Canberra Southern Cross Club on May 23.

Funds from the event will go towards therapy services, programs and new equipment for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. For more information visit the Cerebral Palsy Alliance website.