Tell us a little about your journey and how you became involved with The Pinnacle Foundation.
Pinnacle has changed the trajectory of my life massively and given me the tools and support to work towards becoming the best version of myself.
When I first applied, I heard about Pinnacle from a peer who was a scholar who encouraged me to apply. I was living at home with a family who didn’t fully accept me, commuting 3 hours every day to get to uni from the country and working casually every weekend to save money to leave. I also wasn’t fully out to most people and trying to come to terms with my own identity during the 2017 postal survey was draining. Trying to get through my Medicine degree, I found myself dragging my feet with my academics starting to bear the ill effects of this.
I started my scholarship in 2019 and from the induction weekend onwards I was a man made anew.
What have you gained from being part of the Pinnacle program so far?
Pinnacle enabled me to move out of the country into Adelaide to be closer to placements in metro hospitals and gave me a support network to positively affirm my identity. I hadn’t really spent much time exploring that part of my identity until then, and the family that the scholarship brought me into gave me peers and role models to help shape me into the best I could be. I was encouraged to volunteer at events and engage with community groups where I otherwise probably wouldn’t have. It’s been a bit of a “golden ticket” into a life and world I wouldn’t have found for myself on my own.
The confidence in my identity that I’ve gained has helped me thrive within my academic program, take up competitive sport again, challenge stereotypes and develop skills in advocacy for the wider LGBTIQ+ community. This year I’ve gone back to the country for placement for the year. Currently alongside my studies, I’m working on a project to help educate other rural doctors in my area about sexual health in General Practice.
What has your experience with your mentor been like?
My mentor has been amazing. He’s the first doctor I’d met that identifies the same as I do and having walked the path before me has been a brilliant support; through both difficult times and encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone. Not only as a support, but he’s also someone that has a lot of exemplary qualities I can aspire to myself as a practitioner and a person. It’s difficult to put into sentence form all the things that he’s helped me achieve.
Outside of the formal mentorship, the broader support from the SA committee has also been great. We get to have regular catch ups, work together at events for the Foundation and they’ve also helped me negotiate some challenging situations I’ve found myself in. Importantly, I feel as if I’ve been brought into not just a program with financial support, but truly a “chosen family” of queer people from all ages, genders and walks of life who have shown me how great we actually are as a group. Gay men are particularly known to confine themselves to cliques and bubbles, thus having such a diverse family to support me has broadened my horizons as a queer person.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about applying for The Pinnacle Foundation Scholarship Program?
One of the most fantastic things about Pinnacle is the sense of family and emotional support that comes with the program, not just the financial help. Before this, I hadn’t found my place within the broader community and suddenly I had a fantastic group of people similar to myself. When I applied I never knew how important this would become to me, and thus I would want every applicant to know that there’s so much more to a Pinnacle Scholarship than just support with money. More importantly it’s about support with life and helping you “light the spark” to be the best leader you can possibly become.