Making a difference: Power of scholarships

Published: Monday 9th May 2016

External relations coordinator Colleen Malone has taught children in the Kimberley, Papua New Guinea and in many schools in Sydney, and understands that some students need extra financial help to achieve their university dreams. Colleen shares her ACU story.

"I love working at ACU. I began working on the Strathfield Campus in 2007 in the area known then as Mission Engagement. My role was to facilitate ways for staff and students to ‘live out’ the Mission Statement of the University. It was a fabulous job.

Since then, I have undertaken various roles at ACU. One of them was being seconded to work with AVC Professor Marea Nicholson to facilitate partnerships with various agencies within the Catholic Church in Sydney. I came to ACU from a teaching background, having spent many years in Catholic Schools in NSW, the Kimberley and Papua New Guinea. I had also worked with Caritas Australia, PALMS Australia and the Sisters of Saint Joseph. It was, therefore, very satisfying to be able to integrate my previous ‘lives’ with all that was asked of me in that particular role.

I have now returned to work, having been on extended leave. My new position these days is with MER, (Marketing and External Relations- more the ‘external’ than the marketing!)  It is my role to ‘care’ for donors, those individuals and agencies in NSW who/which donate money to ACU to enable ACU to offer scholarships to our students. My team works closely with the Scholarships Office on the one hand, and our donors on the other.

Often our donors have specific requests which we seek to accommodate as best we can. For example, some like to donate a specific amount of money for a scholarship for a student in a particular faculty; some donations are for bursaries to enable students in financial need to complete their studies; some give money to be disbursed as a scholarship honouring a particular person; some offer a scholarship to ACU alumni for a professional development experience. Donors also support special areas within ACU’s remit such as Future in Youth (East Timor) and ACU Refugee Program (Thai-Burma Border).

We value the generosity of our donors and work closely together to sustain and nourish the relationships we have them. It is most gratifying to facilitate a meeting between donors and the scholarship/ bursary recipients and very moving to hear students tell their story, of how a receiving a scholarship affirms their hard work and achievement, or how receiving a bursary helps lessens their financial anxiety.

For me, one of the most pleasing aspects of working at ACU is the community here.  I have a sense of belonging when I come to work. I like being greeted by name at the cafeteria; I like returning a wave across the quad from the properties team; I like saying ‘hi’ to the receptionist and to the IT team; I like bumping into various academic and professional colleagues in the cafeteria; I like supporting, when I can, the activities on campus such as those organized by the Art Gallery, the Office of Student Success, Yalbalinga, the Staff Social Club, Equity Pathways, Campus Ministry, various faculties, and so on.

Where else could I work with colleagues who also love their work, who are committed to providing the best possible academic experience and professional support to students, who join with me in making a difference to the lives of our students and beyond.

And, as I listen to some of my academic and professional colleagues, I delight vicariously in their achievements. I know we are all working for the common good."