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How the Dafydd Lewis Trust changed Shaban B. Sulejman’s life

Shaban B. Sulejman showed a natural aptitude for sport in high school, but his home life was drawing him in another direction. Shaban’s father was battling a range of illnesses and his mother became his full-time carer.

“We needed to pay the bills and that responsibility eventually fell onto me, so like many others, I had to find work,” Shaban says. “I DJ’d for almost a decade and the focus, we decided, was to go to school.”

The hard work paid off and Shaban was accepted into University, but the cost and travel time from his family’s home in Shepparton loomed as insurmountable obstacles. Then he saw the Dafydd Lewis Trust scholarship call for applications.

“I discovered the scholarship online a few days before applications were due, so I scrambled to get an application in. I remember taking my parents to McDonalds, which was my dad’s favourite, where I received the call from former Lewis Trust secretary Luisa Hickson saying that I had been awarded a Dafydd Lewis scholarship.”

It was a life-changing experience. The scholarship awards $10,000 per annum over three years to young men who might not have otherwise received a university education due to the limited financial resources of their parents (the more recent Mary Jane Lewis scholarship also supports women).

“I honestly wouldn't be here if it weren’t for the Dafydd Lewis Scholarship,” Shaban says. “I wouldn't have been able to move to Melbourne without it because it was a lot of money. It covered rent, food and bills, and I could save any spare money that I accumulated to pay the bills at home. It also allowed me to travel between Shepparton and Melbourne to care for my family.”

Shaban completed a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Physics at the University of Melbourne in 2019. After completing a short research project in collaboration with the Reserve Bank of Australia as a Laby Research Scholar, he subsequently completed a Master of Science in Optical Physics in 2021.

Shaban is currently completing a PhD at the University of Melbourne and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS). His research focuses on developing low-cost and ultra-thin nanotechnology that could be used as accessible smart-phone filters to image invisible cancer cells.

“When I realised that I could work on this medical aspect of research, which had impacted my dad for my whole life, that’s what kept me going. Whenever my dad needed to get any sort of medical treatment, most of the time we had to drive to Melbourne, for example. The nanotechnology could be used as test kits in rural areas to indicate whether a trip to the nearest city is required, rather than needing expensive microscopes that are often only found in specialized laboratories.”

But it all started with the Dafydd Lewis Trust scholarship, which has been a springboard to other scholarships and provided a strong network of connections, he says.

“The networking through the Dafydd Lewis Trust Scholarship is just as important as the money itself. For example, during my second year as a Dafydd Lewis Scholar in 2018, the Lewis Trust hosted a networking event at Government House. This saw the attendance of the Governor of Victoria, Supreme Court justices, ex-military people, lawyers, the CEO of the AFL and other distinguished people in various fields of work. When I apply for other scholarships and positions, I can say that I have been a Dafydd Lewis Scholar. It has been the enabler of everything that I’ve got.”


The Dafydd Lewis Trust is managed by Equity Trustees. Donations can be made at

Fulbright Future Scholarship