What was it like for you to be part of The Pinnacle Foundation Scholarship Program?
I applied for the Pinnacle Foundation Scholarship in 2017 and was awarded the SHK Asia Pacific Scholarship in 2018 for my final year at University where I was completing a Bachelor of Laws (Hons). The scholarship program not only provided financial support during my final year at University but has also been a great opportunity to meet some wonderful people, while also opening many doors.
As part of the program, I attended the Induction Weekend in Sydney which was a fantastic experience to meet amazing people from the LGBTIQA+ community, including Board Members of the foundation, many of them fresh from the Marriage Equality campaign, other Scholars and my Mentor. During the weekend, the Honourable Michael Kirby presented our scholarship certificates, which was very exciting for me as a law student and prospective lawyer. It was encouraging to be surrounded by so many strong members and allies of our community. Prior to attending this weekend, I had never had the opportunity to attend an event with so many members and leaders in the LGBTIQ+ community. I regularly attend events hosted by Pinnacle and have always felt a sense of belonging, a sense of community and a real family vibe. The Pinnacle Foundation events are a great opportunity to hears stories from LGBTIQA+ people of all different generations and truly understand how far we society has come to accepting LGBTIQA+ people, although there is still some way to go.
Since my graduation, I have joined the Victorian State Committee and perform the role of secretary on that committee. This year I will also have the privilege of being a member of the Scholar selection committee, and be able to bring a unique perspective to that process having so recently experienced what it is like to be a young person at University and the day-to-day challenges that you face.
What did you gain most from being part of the Pinnacle program?
Being a Pinnacle Foundation Scholar meant that I could finish my degree with greater ease because I had access to not only financial support, but also the support from so many people within the foundation such as my mentor, and fellow scholars. Being able to identify the similarities in our journeys has made it possible to be hopeful for the future, as well as provide support when times are challenging. Being part of the Pinnacle Program has absolutely helped me build my own personal community which continues to be such an important and valuable part of my life.
What was your experience with your mentor?
I am so happy with my mentor; she has been so helpful and valuable to my experience in the Program. We keep in touch as we have always had such a good connection and I have found it easy to talk to her about my career, life experiences and things I couldn’t speak to anyone else about. During the program we touched base every month or six weeks depending on how busy we both were, and we always made an effort to keep in touch. Having someone who is supportive and available was important for my peace of mind and success in the Program.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about applying for the Pinnacle Foundation Scholarship Program?
I would suggest that the young person think about what their motivations for why they are studying their course and what they want to achieve from their career and life. Understanding their personal motivations can help them be clear about their current goals and how they can get the most out of the Program. I would also recommend that applicants be candid about the challenges they have faced. Often, we minimise the challenges we have faced and do not give ourselves the credit for what we have fought against or overcome. By not sugar coating the challenges faced the Foundation will be able to identify what support might be needed, and any guidance required, which may come into helping select a mentor later down the line. I would just reiterate to the young person not to be afraid to be yourself because the Pinnace Foundation is one of the safest and most accepting places to be who you are.