George Hanna loves physics because “it makes sense”.
He says there’s solutions to most problems, regardless of how difficult they may be to find.
But Mr Hanna knows better than most that some problems can be a real test of character.
At 17 years of age, Mr Hanna’s dream of becoming a physicist were dealt a blow when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that grows in bones or soft tissue around bones.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, it sapped me of motivation – it was hard to deal with school and cancer at the same time,” he said.
But Mr Hanna refused to give up on his dream of becoming a physicist.
“I was referred by education co-ordinators at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre to a scholarship called Dare to Dream, which is funded by Coles and Redkite,” he said.
“I ended up winning the scholarship and it really re-ignited my drive.
“Some days it was hard to concentrate, especially after having chemo, but for me, I think it’s largely psychological – winning the scholarship made me push myself harder and now I’m at university and everything is going well.”
Mr Hanna is encouraging those in a similar position to follow his lead.
“People think winning this scholarship is much more difficult than it is,” he said. “But you just have to be yourself and show them why you want the scholarship. For me, my studies are quite expensive, so this has really helped with bringing my dream within reach.”
Mr Hanna is currently enjoying a mid-year break from his studies.
“I’ve just finished my first semester of a bachelor of science at Melbourne University and everything is going really well,” he said. “When I first had cancer, I thought I had no options, but it actually opened other doors for me. There’s nothing lower than rock bottom and I wasn’t going to get there.
“I had surgery at the end of April on my arm and everything is all good. I got my results yesterday and I’ve been cancer free for six months now.”