WINNING a 50,000 Euro ($AUD76,000) scholarship for a competitive Masters program as a rural student was only achievable with prayer, science student Isabelle Russell said.
Ms Russell, 22, was one of only five students living outside of Europe who received a Category A scholarship for the Erasmus Mundus Masters Program in Evolutionary Biology.
The scholarship will pay for two years of study in Europe.
The Nambour Catholic parishioner, who grew up in Woodford and attended St Columban’s College, Caboolture, is believed to be the only Australian to be chosen for the internationally renowned program.
Ms Russell said her passion for science grew out of her commitment to the Catholic faith and in particular, the teaching that God created the universe.
“It’s actually what inspired me to study biology,” Ms Russell said.
“I’ve been a practising Catholic my whole life.”
During her studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Ms Russell developed an interest in the “mysterious” realm of microbiology and immunology, in particular, antibiotic resistance in animals.
While science has convinced the young science student of evolutionary biology, the Nambour parishioner believes the theory can co-exist with a belief in God.
“Basically, from my background (in science), I think evolution is irrefutable but I take the perspective that this process of evolution occurred under the guidance of God,” Ms Russell said.
Her faith in God was particularly valuable during the nervous application process.
“Around 180 people worldwide applied for the program, and only 35 got into the program,” Ms Russell said.
“I prayed throughout.
“It helped me get through it.”
Graduating this year with a Bachelor of Science majoring in biology and biotechnology, Ms Russell said she was amazed at the opportunity to study overseas.
“It is exactly what I wanted to study,” she said.
Ms Russell, who left for Europe on August 19, will undertake the program at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.