Community & Business

29 November, 2023

Hannah rises to global success

A CASUAL scroll on Instagram quickly became a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Atherton’s Hannah Smith, who is one of three Australians selected as a 2023 Rise Global Winner.

By Ellie Fink

Atherton State High School graduate Hannah Smith has been announced as a 2023 Rise Global Winner – only one of 100 across the world.
Atherton State High School graduate Hannah Smith has been announced as a 2023 Rise Global Winner – only one of 100 across the world.

Seeing a personalised ad about the Rise program on her Instagram feed, Hannah decided to have a look to see what it was about. 

“When I looked on the website, I saw that Rise was a program that found promising young people who aspired to make the world a better place,” she said. 

“Upon further reading, I learnt of some of the benefits offered to Rise Global Winners and thought about applying, thinking ‘Why not? I’ve got nothing to lose!’”

The Rise program is a global program that seeks out promising young people and provides them with opportunities that allow them to work together to serve others over their lifetimes.

An initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust, Rise is the anchor program of a $1 billion commitment from Americans Eric and Wendy Schmidt to find and support global talent.

As a part of the program, Hannah had to do a research project and present it in her application. 

Hannah’s project focused on “cultivating cultures of trust and connection within rural high school communities”, aiming to manage and improve the health and mental wellbeing of adolescents nationwide. 

Her plan included the introduction of senior student mentors, the establishment of designated "wellbeing spaces" in schools, and the organisation of support groups run by students for students.

“I spent countless hours on my application, which consisted of written and videoed responses of me presenting my objectives, designs and plans,” she said.

“This project was important to me as I’m a passionate advocate for mental health. I’ve had some challenges throughout my years of high school, but persevered with the help of my teachers, friends and family. 

“I’d like to devote myself to helping others manage their mental health and strive to support anyone who needs it. I was (and still am) able to do this, thanks to Rise.”

Her project was a hit, and Hannah was quickly nominated as a top 500 finalist, where she had the opportunity to participate in an online Youth Advocacy course called "We Are the Ones" with Africa Matters. 

This experience allowed her to delve into important topics such as identity, intersectionality, feminism, activism, and leadership.

Her engagement on the topic and her ongoing dedication to the program paid off, and Hannah was one of three Australians and one of 100 worldwide applicants to be recognised as a Rise Global Winner. 

“I was so surprised, shocked, to say the least. I opened the long awaited email late on 4  October (nearly midnight) and was too shocked to move,” she said. 

“When my senses finally came back to me, I walked out to the living room where mum was sitting and held up my phone and said ‘I got it’. 

“I burst into tears of joy, mum leapt up from the couch and held me in her arms. In seconds, the rest of my family was out of bed, circled around me, tears in their eyes. 

“We celebrated in the morning with breakfast after I’d checked my emails 100 times over to see if what happened was real. 

“I’m still in disbelief of my achievement, but so honoured to have earned my place as a 2023 Rise Global Winner.” 

As a Rise winner, Hannah will now have all of her university fees paid for by the Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust and will attend the Rise Residential Summit at Oxford.

Now that Hannah has graduated from Atherton State High School, she will be taking a gap year to work and refresh whilst exploring a career in education or engineering. 

Applications for the 2024 Rise program are now open. To apply, visit


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