Tell us a little about your journey and how you became involved with The Pinnacle Foundation.
I moved from Perth to Melbourne in 2018 to study medicine at Monash University, but immediately found living independently without familial support to be a challenge. Given that I came out at the airport when departing Perth, I moved to Melbourne with the knowledge that I may very well be on my own financially, which indeed turned out to be the case. In this time my mental health began to deteriorate and without having access to quality mental health care I struggled enormously, this was only exacerbated by being the first person in my immediate family to attend university. Luckily, I stumbled across The Pinnacle Foundation when browsing my university’s external scholarships page and muddled an application together. At first, I didn’t think I would be eligible for the scholarship but still I applied and was very lucky to have been selected as a scholar in 2019.
What have you gained from being part of the Pinnacle program so far?
My mentor has been absolutely fantastic, he is so experienced, knowledgeable, and generous. Additionally, meeting the other scholars at the induction weekend was a terrific experience and allowed me to engage with the queer community in a way I hadn’t before. The financial support I’ve received from The Pinnacle Foundation has enabled me to access psychology for the first time in my life and work towards alleviating my mental illness. Additionally, Pinnacle was excellent during the Covid-19 crisis and provided a safe space for us to discuss how we were feeling and coping during these challenging times.
What has your experience with your mentor been like?
In one word, spectacular. He is such a kind and knowledgeable person with whom I was able to connect with almost immediately. Firstly, his wealth of knowledge both anecdotally in medicine as well as personally as apart of the gay community has assisted me greatly in informing my own perspectives and sense of belonging. Additionally, he has been a great comfort when I’ve had scholarly troubles and doubts regarding my degree and has on a number of occasions presented me with new perspectives and ideas that I otherwise would not have encountered. I think in many ways he has also shown me what it means to belong to queer community as an adult. Before Pinnacle I knew hardly any gay men who were older than me, I think its great to have some accessible and empowering representation.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about applying for The Pinnacle Foundation Scholarship Program?
Go for it! What’s the worst that can happen? I think this scholarship has altered the trajectory of not only my studies but my identity. It has empowered me to strive for not only acceptance within the community but brilliance, both within myself and the world around me. I’ve seen what talent we have within our community and now more than ever I’m excited to be a part of it. I’d recommend applying to anyone who wants to do the same!