Gratitude for a grant

Posted on 25th November 2019

Facing a financial struggle in her third year of university, Dr Rebecca Penco turned to the Western Australian Dental Foundation for assistance. It was one of the best decisions she ever made.

“I was doing a bit of maths tutoring for high-school students, but it wasn’t paying much,” she recalls.

“I couldn’t find many jobs that would work with my university hours and workload. I had rent and bills to pay, and one day I realised during my uni lunchbreak that I had no means of eating – no lunch, no cash and absolutely no money in my bank account.

“I was too embarrassed to ask friends at university for help, so I went back to clinic without eating.”

Fortuitously, it was around this time that Bec received an email from the student administration at OHCWA detailing WADF’s grant and application process.

“I’d received similar emails in previous years and hadn’t paid them much attention. But this was the wakeup call I needed to apply for a grant.”

After completing the straightforward application process, Bec received $2,000 from WADF – along with a significant ease of stress.

“I believe third year is the hardest year in dentistry – your workload is very heavy both clinically and academically.
“After receiving the grant, I was able to focus on my studies and participate on student council without the stress of having to find additional work hours or change my housing situation.

“I definitely would not have done as well academically or clinically without it. I ended up graduating with Distinction, was awarded multiple prizes, and was the president of the University Dental Students’ Society, all of which required time and focus, which the WADF granted me.”

Bec is currently working in a fantastic private practice, tutoring students at OHCWA and participating in dental research. “I couldn’t be happier with where my career has taken me,” she says, adding that her involvement in the dental community wouldn’t be as strong if it wasn’t for the grant.

“Because of the grant I was able to participate on student council and gain an appreciation for the dental community’s strength as a team.”


The Western Australian Dental Foundation was established during a period when the UWA Dental School’s future was under threat. The profession banded together to lobby the university and raise funds to ensure the long-term future of our proud dental school. Many students who studied dentistry at UWA in the last 20 years have the WADF to thank.

Since then, WADF has acted on behalf of the Western Australian dental profession to support the School and its students. It funds scholarships for financial hardships so that dentists like Bec can complete their education. It also funds special projects and research, as well as important pieces of equipment to improve the School’s prestige and credibility. The WADF has also funded and currently oversees the Alistair Devlin Memorial Scholarship.

All of its funding has come from donations by individual members of the profession as well as specialist groups and societies. The Committee of Management, comprised of ADAWA, School and Alumni representatives, manages the Foundation to ensure that the valued donations are utilised in the most effective way.