1st year Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts (Humanities) student, ACU Brisbane Campus
Aaron Brown knows he quite simply would not be studying at the ACU Brisbane campus if it were not for the generous support of two scholarships.
I’d really like to be able to give back, even if it’s just helping one kid.
Harking from the small rural town of Emerald—1000km west of Brisbane—the first year Bachelor of Teaching/Arts (Humanities) student would be packing up and heading home at the end of this year, rather than pursuing his aspirations to be a great teacher and mentor.
Fortunately, however, Aaron was the recipient of the Catherine McAuley Scholarship, worth $2500 for each year of his four-year course, and the $15,000 Edmund Rice Education Australia & St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace - Equity Scholarship, which have enabled him to continue fulltime study.
Aaron says the actual cost of university study had taken his family by surprise.
“There are just so many expenses—fees, textbooks, accommodation, food. It was kind of freaking me and my parents out in the first semester,” he says.
“The funds my parents had saved were quickly dwindling. I would have had to defer my course for 18 months and go home to work. My parents said, ‘Just keep applying for scholarships and see what happens’.”
The 18-year-old has wanted to work in education since the age of four, inspired by an uncle who taught in classrooms across Australia and overseas, as well as by his family’s strong educational values.
Attending the close-knit St Patrick’s School and Marist College in Emerald, he was further inspired to go into secondary teaching by his religion teacher Mr Finlayson.
“I learnt from him that you can be a great friend and mentor to students as well as their teacher, and get involved in extra-curricular activities, like sport, coaching and school camps.”
The mentorship and pastoral care aspect is extremely important to Aaron, whose dream is to return to the country classroom to support regional students and repay the care he himself received.
“There were impeccable teachers at Marist. They really care about what you’re doing, and every student feels important—it’s a really strong family feeling,” he says. “The community did a lot for me, and I’d really like to be able to give back, even if it’s just helping one kid.
“Kids deserve respect and care.”
In regional Queensland, where the downturn in the mining sector and severe drought are limiting youth employment opportunities and having negative financial and social impacts, Aaron recognises this is especially important.
“Regional youth really need great mentoring and role models, and access to the same opportunities as their city counterparts.”
He also feels a strong pull towards special needs teaching. This was cemented for him this year by his experience of working as a carer in a disability support facility, which he will continue to do when home for the university holidays.
“Further down the track, I’d like to do a doctorate, probably in disability services,” he says. “There’s a big lack of special needs teachers, and particularly male special needs teachers.”
ACU has been the perfect fit for the “outback kid”—“It has a really homely feel,” he says.
“And because I want to teach religion, it was the best choice of uni for what I want to do. It was actually the only university that allowed me to combine a religion major with a minor in business for my arts degree.”