Tell us a little about your journey and how you became involved with The Pinnacle Foundation.
My journey to The Pinnacle foundation has not been a short or easy one. In my first semester of University I lost both my biological parents and quickly had to figure out how to manage a university degree with limited financial support. Being the first in your family to attend a Group of Eight University isn’t always easy. But despite this, I used my tenacity to fight for students with similar circumstances to mine. This included speaking against fee deregulation at the University Town Hall meeting, running for student board twice, interning on Capitol Hill, and becoming involved with my discipline’s student society.
The opportunity to study at The University of Sydney changed my life and perspective on many things. My mentors, Brandon and Marian, were instrumental in shifting my world views and taught me the value of my own voice and ideas. Their research profoundly inspired me as it was research that engaged with people and made a difference. I guess that’s where my values of service and stewardship came from.
When I began studying my Honours Degree, I knew that I wanted to do something that reflected an experience not often discussed in my subjects; queer people. When I embarked on my journey, I quickly learned that much of the literature on queer people in organisations focused on issues of heterosexism and discrimination that I was going to experience. But there was nothing practical to help me build a career as a gay Commerce graduate. It sparked curiosity (please enjoy my curious Georg pun) in how I could contribute towards building knowledge that was so desperately missing from my subjects (through no fault of my lecturers, but rather the field we were in). For example, how does a queer person go about overcoming discrimination, or how do LGBTIQ+ CEO’s like Allan Joyce AC experience their careers? What were the challenges they faced and more importantly what helped them get through the lavender ceiling? I knew that the natural next step in my career was to pursue a Doctorate Degree to build scientific knowledge about queer people in organisations.
It was at that point I knew that I had to apply.
What have you gained from being part of the Pinnacle program so far?
Pinnacle has provided me help in various ways. The financial support of the Foundation has meant that I was able to purchase the equipment I need to pursue my studies as well as attend international conferences to present my research. Whilst the financial support has opened up many opportunities not previously available to me undoubtedly the social/mentor support has been of even greater value. I speak with Andrew, Nicholas, and Jim on a regular basis who provide extensive emotional support during an at times emotionally taxing PhD process. My mentor, Drew, has also provided emotional and career advice which has been invaluable. These personal connections have been the best benefit I have received. Knowing that there are people like me who have travelled my path before makes my journey less daunting.
What has your experience with your mentor been like?
My mentor, Drew, has been invaluable in providing career advice as well as how to navigate and analyse different situations. In particular I’ve found our conversations helpful in analysing what is important to me and how to go about achieving my desired goals.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about applying for The Pinnacle Foundation Scholarship Program?
Sit down. Write that application. Seriously.
Honestly, The Pinnacle Foundation experience was a life changing experience for me. I met my fellow scholars and Pinnacle community at the induction weekend not knowing what to expect. I left our induction weekend in tears having made some of my closest friends today. I was inspired by the various stories previously not heard from our community. Pinnacle is more than just a bit of financial support. It’s given me a family of supports, a group of mentors, a group of collaborators and most importantly, given me the confidence to make a difference in the world. If you are thinking about applying for Pinnacle stop thinking and just do it. I promise it will change your life. I know it has for me.