Cessalee Smith-Stovall has a name for her imposter syndrome. It’s Tyrone.

She says when she applied for the Westpac Social Change Fellowship, she had to ask Tyrone to leave.

“Most of us have imposter syndrome in some form,” says the founder at Stage A Change, “Name it, and escort them right out of your headspace.”

In 2022 Cessalee was awarded the $50,000 Fellowship, a program designed for social innovators to focus on their own development. For people who spend their days working to improve the lives of others, it can be uncomfortable to look inward. But it can also be transformative.

2020 Social Change Fellow and Co-founder at The Careers Department Samantha Devlin says for her, the program was life changing.

“The Westpac Social Change Fellowship gives you the resources to reframe your thinking and be a better leader.

“Through this Fellowship I have been challenged to re-evaluate my perspectives, and because of this, my enterprise is helping a more diverse group of students in a more meaningful way.”

More than just money, the Fellowship includes an immersive Group Leadership Program, designed to develop adaptive leaders and fuel long-lasting connections.

“I didn’t expect to gain as much as I did,” says 2022 Social Change Fellow and Green Collect CEO Sally Quinn of the leadership program, “both in the area of my own learning and reflection, and through the shared journey and incredibly strong relationships with the cohort.”

Like 2019 Social Change Fellow and Founder at Eat Up Lyndon Galea says, the Westpac Social Change Fellowship is “an opportunity of a lifetime for aspiring changemakers.”

He says he’s not only “a stronger leader, learner and team member because of it,” but that “it’s an experience that has shaped [his] outlook for the future and amplified [his] ability to create a positive impact in Australia.”

Ready to apply?

Beyond leaving your own Tyrone at the door, Cessalee has a number of top tips to maximise your application experience.

  • Be yourself, don’t be afraid to let your personality show
  • Remember that to invest in your personal growth, they need to know about you as a person
  • Imagine what a mentee would say about you, don’t be embarrassed to celebrate your accomplishments
  • Identify your room for growth, it’s okay to say there’s more to know
  • Reach out to previous Social Change Fellows, even if you don’t need anything other than someone cheering for you, it’s great to be in the network
  • Celebrate the wins along the way! Did you get the application in on time? Hooray! Did you meet a new person along the way? Superb! Did you get through one round? Awesome! Did you challenge yourself to think differently about your growth? Unbelievable!
  • Talk about your plan to people who know you well. You’ll be surprised by the ways people can and will offer guidance or different perspectives
  • Be specific about your goals. You don’t have to know exactly how, but be clear on the why and the impact.

And, says Cessalee, “If all else fails, know that with or without the Fellowship, you’re changing the world. And that’s a win!”

If you’re ready to invest $50,000 into your development as a social innovator, apply for a Westpac Social Change Fellowship. Find out more and register for the online Information Session on 7 September at 1:00pm AEST.

Looking Inward as a Social Innovator (and Why You Should Apply for a Westpac Social Change Fellowship)