Bowled over by an ACU Foundation scholarship

Published: Wednesday 15th June 2016

Damien Avenia went back to his old school to coach the cricket team and his outstanding community engagement resulted in an ACU Foundation scholarship. “The parents of the teams I were coaching came up to me and said what a wonderful job I had done ... I felt I was really making a difference to these boys,” he said.

Damien was one of the recipients at the Brisbane Prizes and Awards ceremony held last month in the new John Paul II building. The ceremony was hosted by Brisbane Associate Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Nyland and saw over 150 staff, donors, students and their families gathered to celebrate the students' outstanding achievements.

Damien was the inaugural recipient of the Tom Beer Memorial Award.  Established in 2016, this award was established in memory of Tom Beer, a business graduate from the Banyo campus who tragically passed away in 2013 at the age of 27.

Tom really enjoyed his time at ACU and made lots of friends amongst the students and lecturers. He had a great interest in entrepreneurism and a passion for social justice. The family established this award to honour Tom’s memory and for the recipient to use the money to finance their interests in these areas. Toms’ brother Sam and Tom’s classmate Moti Ram presented the award to Damien Avenia.

Damien said he was reluctant to give up his time to coach the cricket team at first, but his attitude quickly changed after he received feedback from the parents and saw the change in the young cricketers.

“The parents of the teams I were coaching came up to me and said what a wonderful job I had done,” he said.

“They said: ‘Wow we really can see the improvement in our son. He never used to bowl on the pitch. Now thanks to you, our son can bowl on the wickets with the coaching you have taught him, you have given him so much more confidence within himself”.

“A mother of one of the boys was very impressed and said to me ‘You have shown great a great sense of commitment and responsibility towards the boys. While sacrificing your week days and weekends in order for the boys to be able to play sport. You have put in a lot of time, effort and persistence into the boys and us as parents are glad to have you as a coach’.”

Regional student gives thanks

Aaron Brown (pictured, right), recipient of two Scholarships - The Catherine McAuley Scholarship and Edmund Rice Education Australia & St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace - Equity Scholarship delivered the Vote of Thanks (VOT) on behalf of all the recipients.

Aaron has moved over 1000km from Emerald to Brisbane to study Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts (Humanities).

He believes that “regional students should have as many opportunities as their city counterparts” and he wants to be part of their journey. Aaron spoke about his dream of becoming a teacher to make a difference in the lives of regional children.

Dr Michael Carroll (pictured left) from St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace and Sr Catherine Reuter and Sr Mary Pescott presented Aaron with his two scholarships.

The Foundation team was pleased to welcome many donors to the Brisbane event including representatives from Aspen Medical, Sisters of Mercy, Coop, Australian Association of Social Workers, The Australian Psychological Society Sister of St Joseph’s, Graduate Women Qld and the Presentation Sisters QLD and a range of private donors.