Julien Grosmaire

Julien Grosmaire – Pinnacle alumnus

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

I grew up partly in France, and partly in Canberra as my dad is from France and my mum is Australian. When I was 11, we moved from France to Canberra, although I completed my schooling in French and completed a French Baccalaureate, the equivalent of an Australian Year 12. Six months after completing school I moved to Wagga Wagga to start studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Biology and Bachelor of Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University. My course lasted six years and I lived in Wagga Wagga for the duration of my course. I came across The Pinnacle Foundation partway through my studies, during the time when I had to go into lots of placements as a part of my course. Work placements in rural and remote areas, as well as living in a regional centre like Wagga Wagga was quite challenging. The Pinnacle Foundation was so helpful in so many ways. Prior to receiving the scholarship, I was juggling three jobs while also trying to maintain my full-time studies. The financial support that came with receiving my Pinnacle scholarship meant that I could reduce my work to focus more on my studies. The scholarship really helped me through those last years of my studies where most of my spare time and holiday breaks were spent on clinical placements and studying, leaving little time for anything else. Even when we had classes, during the term, we had to go and look after the hospital patients before and after our lectures and tutorials, so any free time was very scarce.

After I graduated in 2020, I moved to Tamworth in New South Wales to work in a mixed practice where I worked with cattle, horses, dogs, cats, and exotic animals. My experience in this general practice was fantastic and I was able to work with a talented team. I stayed there for about two years and then an opportunity came up in Southeast Queensland in an organisation called Endeavour Veterinary Ecology, where I still work now as the veterinary operations manager. I manage the veterinary side of the organisation and we work with large infrastructure projects where there is development on endangered species’ habitat, and we ensure that the wild animals are protected throughout the lifecycle of the projects. We work a lot with koalas who are very diseased. I run a koala hospital alongside these projects where we can treat all the koalas that need care, and then we release them back into the wild. The organisation I work with also conducts a lot of important and interesting research which can be used to improve things going forward.

Outside of work I have been very busy as well, as most Pinnacle alumni tend to be. At the start of 2023 I joined the board of directors at Wildlife Health Australia, which is the national coordinating body for wildlife health in the country. Being on a board was always one of my career goals, however I had not anticipated that I would be able to do this before I turned around 40 or 50 years old. To have reached this milestone so early in my career has been a massive achievement for myself. Wildlife Health Australia is an amazing organisation that does important work in my field and being involved with them is so rewarding and impactful for my career. I am also a member of The Australian Rainbow Vets Association (ARVA), who operate under The Veterinary Kaleidoscope. The focus of this organisation is to increase diversity and inclusion and support marginalised veterinarians. My role at ARVA is as the student and mentoring lead, and I am tasked with sharing information about potential opportunities and pathways for inclusion for marginalised vets.  I am also involved with the Australian Veterinary Association which I have been involved with since the start of university in a special interest group called Australian Veterinary Conservation Biologists. Before graduating from University, I was the student liaison on the committee, but now I am a committee member, and the chair for the Australian Veterinary Association’s climate action working group. I try to manage all my interests – wildlife, conservation, climate change, diversity, and inclusion – so that I can be involved in and advocate for all the different causes that I am deeply passionate about.

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

I found the mentorship that I received through Pinnacle helped me see what doors were available to me and encouraged me to take advantage of all the opportunities available so that I did not miss anything that would be beneficial to me as a person and in my career. As an LGBTQIA+ person, at times it can feel unsafe to be open about yourself. This sense of self-preservation can lead people to isolation and to being closed off from others to protect yourself from any pain or trauma. Inevitably, this can lead to not taking up opportunities and not putting up your hand up to be included in spaces of influence. The Pinnacle Foundation helped me be proud of my identity as an LGBTQIA+ person and taught me how to be become more comfortable in my identity and so I can be visible for others like me. This has helped me to leverage my lived experiences, and identity to help others and to advance in the path that I have chosen for myself. When I received my scholarship, I was so excited, and I was speechless and, like many others before me, I felt a sense of imposter syndrome which I have now learned to overcome. Through Pinnacle I was glad to have the opportunity to be more involved in the LGBTQIA+ community. I knew that when I received the scholarship it was more than just a scholarship, but also an opportunity to be welcomed into the LGBTQIA+ community and gain a sense of belonging within the Pinnacle family. If I can give anyone who is currently a scholar any advice it would be to make the most of this life-changing opportunity. Walk through all the doors that will open as part of the Pinnacle scholarship program, engage with the Pinnacle family, attend the events you are invited to, and just make the most of your time as a scholar. Putting yourself out there will lead to many doors being opened for you and will enable you to meet of the most amazing representatives of the LGBTQIA+ community.

What was your experience with your mentor like?

The Pinnacle Foundation was so helpful with pairing me with my mentor James. I was surprised that Pinnacle was able to find a mentor that represented my future aspirations so closely. James and I got on so well and he is such a great mentor, and we are still in touch today. Our mentor and mentee relationship was so successful because we communicated from the beginning what our expectations were and we were determined to speak regularly, despite the challenges we faced due to living far away from each other and navigating the difficulties we all faced during COVID. James and I checked in often and we used the medium that suited us and found ways of communicating and catching up that worked for us. The most unexpected thing that I found as part of my scholarship was the quality of the mentorship relationship and the long-lasting relationships that have lasted all these years. I have been involved in many different mentorship programs as part of my veterinary studies, and I have not always found them to be successful or very tailored to what I needed or what was valuable for me. I believe that many of the opportunities that I have been given to this day were influenced by the quality of the mentorship and the long-lasting relationships I have built as part of being involved in The Pinnacle Foundation’s scholarship program. 

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

You must apply for a Pinnacle Foundation scholarship. I know it is sometimes hard to put yourself out there, but sometimes you must believe in yourself and know that you are worthy and deserving of all the opportunities available out there. If you are not successful at first, keep applying until people see how special and amazing you are. I have learned the importance of backing yourself and showing people what you are capable of.

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