Each of our scholarships and bursaries has a rich history and deep significance for our donors. Student recipients come from all walks of life, and have their own story on where they have been, and what their award will help them achieve. The emotional connections formed between donors and recipients are a special part of the award ceremonies.
At each ceremony this year a student gave a Vote of Thanks, sharing their personal experiences and thanking partners, educators and families for their support on behalf of all recipients. In Brisbane, the Vote of Thanks was delivered by Weemala student Debbie Pardon, who was awarded the Graduate Women's Queensland Indigenous Women's Award. Despite financial barriers and a busy family life, Debbie is pursuing her dream to get an education degree so she can contribute to her community and serve as a role model for her son and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. With the support of the ACU Weemala unit and family and friends, Debbie is now in her final year of the Bachelor of Education (Primary) (Indigenous Studies) through ACU's Away from Base Program – which allows her to remain in her community and complete her degree through correspondence.
Emma Landow, 2015 recipient of the Sue Mitchell Nursing Scholarship, spoke about her personal journey and the impact of her scholarship at the Canberra awards ceremony. Established in 2008 by Mr John Mitchell, the Sue Mitchell Nursing Scholarship is in memory of John's late wife Sue who passed away after a brave battle with cancer. John and Sue are both descendants of distinguished Snowy Mountains' families and are long-term residents of the Corryong and Snowy Mountains region. Sue trained and worked as a nurse in the region around Corryong, Victoria.
Emma became a mother of two before she was even 18 and left school in Year 9 to take care of her young family. After witnessing her grandmother's pain while in hospital, Emma became passionate about pursuing a degree in nursing. By chance she discovered an ACU program that gave students without ATAR scores the opportunity to study first year university units in her local town. Emma jumped at this opportunity, passed the first two units and gained direct entry to ACU. However her nearest campus in Canberra is an hour and a half away from home, providing a significant challenge to completing degree while balancing expenses, commute time, and family life. The financial support provided by the Sue Mitchell Nursing Scholarship has been vital for Emma, assisting with travel, textbook and childcare expenses so she can attend class in Canberra and excel in her studies.
One of our new scholarship donors for 2015, Mary Curran, suffered a life threatening accident and subsequent heart surgery. She was cared for in hospital by ACU nursing students, who also looked after her pet cat in her absence. Once recovered, Mary established the scholarship to support ACU nursing students in their second or third year of study undertaking a placement at a local hospital. In her speech at the North Sydney awards ceremony, Mary Curran Scholarship recipient and young mother Justine Roberts highlighted how the scholarship had helped her professional development by allowing her to travel to East Timor to participate in a program delivering education to local healthcare workers and village volunteers in the provision of basic primary care. If not for the support of the Mary Curran Scholarship Justine would not have been able to participate in this invaluable placement.
Leanna Carr-Smith, recipient of the St Vincent de Paul Broken Bay Central Council Indigenous Scholarship is a proud descendant of the Wiradyuri people and spoke movingly about her educational journey at the Strathfield awards ceremony. The donor, Mr Barry Finch, established the scholarship in 2005 after working in communities, including Redfern, where he discovered the transformative power of education and sought to make it accessible to more people. "We felt that if we could support people to train the teacher and then go back into their own environment they would have a greater effect," he said.
In her speech Leanna highlighted education as the key to a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She sees her role as an educator to help Indigenous children access quality academic resources, and travels more than two hours from Bathurst to the Strathfield Campus to attend intensive class units. Her scholarship from St Vincent de Paul Broken Bay Central Council significantly assists with fees and resources for her course.
Student stories such as these highlight the importance of scholarships and bursaries in supporting students to realise their goals of tertiary education. We acknowledge their hard work and extend our sincere thanks to donors for their generosity in helping our students achieve their dreams.
Please visit our website for more information on ACU scholarships and bursaries as well as faculty prizes and awards. The 2016 award ceremony photographs, recipient lists and articles are also available online.
For further information or to get involved please contact your local Development Manager.