Han Worsley

Profile: Han Worsely – Pinnacle alumnus

Tell us a little about your journey and how you became involved with The Pinnacle Foundation.

I grew up on a property north of a little town called Nullamanna, which has a population of just 40 people and is situated in Northern New South Wales. I grew up in a rural environment where there were not any queer role models. There was a firm culture that said that it was not okay to be gay, and there certainly was no awareness of the rest of the queer spectrum. I went all the way through high school not really thinking about my sexuality until I got to university, and that was where I first heard about The Pinnacle Foundation. At this stage, I had been questioning my gender and my sexuality for quite a while. I was realising that I had been repressing part of myself, being from a rural area that was not very accepting, and I found that when I went home, it was quite hard to find others like me.

I received a Pinnacle Foundation scholarship in 2017, before I had even come out. At the Induction Weekend, for the first time in my life, I was able to meet other queer people who wholeheartedly accepted me. Being part of the Pinnacle family before coming out was initially quite overwhelming in some ways. I hadn’t had many chances to meet people who were openly out and proud of their sexuality and gender identity. Although it was overwhelming, I found that the Pinnacle family helped me to find myself at a time where I felt really scared to come out.

By the end of the Induction Weekend, I knew I was walking away with lifelong friends, my Pinnacle mentor, and that I had a community I had never had before. I had a wonderful four years as a Pinnacle scholar before my time at university came to an end and I graduated with a Bachelor of Primary Education (STEM) and the University Medal – thanks to the support of The Pinnacle Foundation.

I am excited that my journey with The Pinnacle Foundation did not end when my scholarship finished. I decided to volunteer as the Alumni Program Lead  and have remained involved with Pinnacle. On the last day of my degree, and the day my scholarship ended, I was at a Pinnacle event with the ACT Committee. I continue to attend Pinnacle events and am so happy that the support and the connections provided by The Pinnacle Foundation are always there, even long after you finish your degree, and your scholarship ends. Being able to volunteer in an alumni focussed role within Pinnacle is contributing to my professional development and providing me with a meaningful volunteering role, and it is a real privilege to stay involved with The Pinnacle Foundation.

What did you gain from being part of the Pinnacle scholarship program?

The sense of community has been the biggest thing for me, but also the financial support was important for me as a scholar having to move from a rural area. For disadvantaged queer youth the scholarship funds allow us to do things and take part in activities where we can become involved in our communities when we get to university. I was lucky that with the support of Pinnacle, I was able to be an active and engaged student. I became the CEO of charity Country to Canberra and won awards for my volunteer work, I was able to play sport, and I was able to do my placements through my Primary Education degree without having to be too stressed about working at the same time. I was able to forge a university and life balance which has meant that post-university, I have had lots of opportunities, and been able to support and mentor others.

As an alumni, I wanted to maintain my relationship with Pinnacle because I knew that it was such an integral part of my success at university. Having watched Pinnacle grow from when I joined in 2017, I knew I wanted to personally contribute. As our mission becomes more mainstream and more people find out about The Pinnacle Foundation, I understand that there is a lot of work that needs to be done so that we can reach other young rural, regional and remote young people like myself. Working within the rural and regional space now at the Country Universities Centre, there are so many people that come through the door that do not know about The Pinnacle Foundation and do not know that this great organisation exists. As an alumni who lives, works and comes from a rural area, I feel that I can promote the mission of The Pinnacle Foundation within those areas where there is so much need. I participate with Pinnacle by being involved with the ACT Committee and I run the Pinnacle Alumni Board Development Program which is a new initiative by The Pinnacle Foundation to develop its alumni as they develop their careers and grow as leaders of LGBTIQ+ inclusion. 

What was your experience with your mentor like?

My mentor, Katja, was such a wonderful support throughout my degree. She put me in contact with people who inspired and empowered me and supported me through tough decisions such as possible degree and university changes. She has helped to develop my skillset to hone where I focus my time and energy, so that I only choose things that are important to me. We remain in contact. She attended my graduation, making the mammoth effort to return from a family holiday in South Australia. We had the opportunity to take some photos together, and she met some of my chosen family. It was so wonderful for her to be part of such an important day in my life and I hope that we can continue our friendship for a very long time to come. 

What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about applying for the Pinnacle Foundation scholarship program?

Find people that can support you to fill out your application form, to help you think about the wonderful traits that you have and the amazing things that you have done that do make you an incredible member of the LGBTIQ+ community. You are worthy of the support that Pinnacle provides. I strongly encourage you to apply because it is not only financial assistance – it is a built-in family and a wonderful support network, and you deserve that assistance to get your hopes and dreams realised.

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