young men at the beach

Scott Aldred and Zac Hayes

Each year at The Pinnacle Foundation we introduce new scholars into our Pinnacle Scholarship Program. Each of these scholars come to us at different stages of their studies and from many different fields and backgrounds. We welcome our scholars into our family and in turn they welcome us into their world. We get to know each other and journey together through life as scholars and alumni and we share together the experiences that life brings forward. Along the way, our alumni share with us their successes and their challenges knowing that at The Pinnacle Foundation they always have the support of people who will cheer and encourage them in every step of the way.

We’d like to introduce you to Scott Aldred and Zac Hayes, two Pinnacle alumni and partners in business and life. Scott and Zac, in the five years since finishing their degrees and scholarships, collectively run four successful businesses, have won multiple awards such as MYOB 30 Under 30 and  Australian Young Business Leader of the Year 2019, have recently become engaged and are now proud sponsors at The Pinnacle Foundation, hoping to pay it forward for other young LGBTIQ+ students from regional Australia, much like they were just a few years ago.

Scott, a podiatrist, and Zac, an accountant, met in 2014 through a dating app when they were both living in Albury, only to discover that they had come across each other 8 years prior whilst playing hockey against each other. Studying and living in regional Australia was a challenge due to a lack of visibility and discrimination towards the LGBTIQ+ community, limited work opportunities for young people and a lack of community and mentors available. “We both faced a lack of community and a lack of mentorship and there was no support,” states Zac. In addition, Zac and Scott were surviving on one salary, which in Australia is extremely difficult to do. It wasn’t until one day, when a friend recommended that they apply for a Pinnacle scholarship, they decided to apply. Receiving Pinnacle scholarships was life changing for both Scott and Zac as it meant that they could worry less about finances and focus more on their studies. Not only was the stress of experiencing financial pressures lifted, they both received something valuable and enduring, a sense of belonging in a community of supportive LGBTIQ+ people who would cheer for them, encourage them and support them in every step of the way during their final year at university and well into the future.

Scott and Zac have come to a full circle moment with Pinnacle as they now find themselves in a position where they can pay-it-forward and donate to the Foundation. Their generosity will support the next generation of young LGBTIQ+ people living in regional areas and give them the opportunity to thrive. “For us the goal was to give back not only money but give a regional LGBTIQ+ young person the step forward, opportunity and support not only during their scholarship, but also for the long-term,” shares Scott. “I don’t think we would be where we are without the support of Pinnacle. We have been able to ground ourselves in the LGBTIQ+ community and with the support of our mentor, we have been able to reach our 15-year goal in 5 years,” shares Zac.

As part of their Pinnacle scholarship, Scott and Zac were both carefully matched with mentors who shared similar career and life backgrounds. “My mentor was my support and sounding board. It was so important for me to have someone who was a success, who was from our community and someone I could aspire and relate to,” says Scott.

Both Scott and Zac acknowledge that their challenges are challenges that many young LGBTIQ+ people face in regional and rural Australia and they are keen to make a difference. When asked what advice they have for anyone thinking about applying for a Pinnacle Foundation scholarship, the response was one of strong encouragement. “Please do it. It’s not often that young LGBTIQ+ regional people are given these types of opportunities and the care from a healthy and supportive environment that comes with a Pinnacle scholarship,” said Scott. Inspired to pay it forward, Scott and Zac could not stress strongly enough that the key getting the most from a Pinnacle scholarship was to, “Greet every relationship and opportunity with open arms. These relationships will last a lifetime. Try and learn from the experiences of the people and mentors who have gone before you,” encourages Zac. Scott adds, “Just because you are gay or in a regional area without support does not mean you cannot be successful. Despite whatever life circumstances may have come your way, the support of a caring environment will give you confidence to face any challenges that arise. Just remember, it does get better.”

We at the Pinnacle Foundation want to congratulate Scott and Zac on their recent engagement and on their success in business, which has touched the lives of thousands of people in regional Australia.

We welcome you to apply to be part of our 2021 Scholarship Program and look forward to welcoming you to the Pinnacle Family: https://thepinnaclefoundation.org/apply/

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