During November, ABCN brought together mentors, champions, teachers and principals with proud parents and carers to award the 2023 Accelerate scholarships to 39 deserving students and to celebrate the outgoing 2020 scholars.
Kicking off in Victoria, Hall & Wilcox hosted the event which was opened by a musical performance from Thomastown Secondary College before formalities began with graduating 2020 scholars Tabasom and Mahdi acting as the co-emcees for the evening, introducing speakers and sharing their own journeys and experience with ABCN.
‘Originally, I am from Afghanistan, but I was born and raised in Iran because of the Taliban war. At the age of five my family and I booked a one-way ticket to Malaysia in hopes of finding a new home. After around 10 months of trying unsuccessfully to get accepted as a refugee, we left for Indonesia on a boat when we were arrested. We spent five months in jail then were released as refugees into camps in Indonesia. Eventually after spending three years in an unfamiliar country, we were granted permanent residency in Australia,’ says Mahdi.
‘The Accelerate program, to me, represents a beacon of opportunity and growth. A particular highlight was being able to finish VCE and get into my desired course, which I believe was a turning point in my journey, showing me the heights that are achievable with determination, hard work and the right support.’
A particular highlight from the evening was hearing from Hall & Wilcox’s mentor Jonty Brooking and his mentee Shark, one of the graduating 2020 scholars. In the speech, Shark described Jonty as a ‘beacon of support’ while Jonty spoke glowingly of Shark’s talent and potential, in particular his ability to confidently converse with a table of 20 litigation lawyers!
In South Australia, incoming scholars and company champions were brought together for a VIP lunch with ABCN CEO Phil Gardner. The lunch was an opportunity to trading experience, advice, and stories, celebrating the collaboration between schools and member companies that makes ABCN work and recognising the valuable work of ABCN’s company champions in making it all happen.
Moving north, the New South Wales event was hosted in Lendlease’s Barangaroo office, where many of the students viewed Sydney Harbour for the first time. Incoming First Nations scholars from Gorokan High School Matty-J and Selena performed an Acknowledgement of Country before introducing the MCs for the evening, outgoing scholars Ayah and Zakaria, who inspired the crowd with their stories.
It was here in NSW that Tony Macvean, ABCN’s Chair since 2017 announced his resignation from the ABCN Board, introducing incoming Chair Brett Clark, who has been on the ABCN Board since 2019. Throughout the night, we also heard from student and mentor pair Sydney and Sam McWilliam from WSP, as well as Deputy Principal of Sir Joseph Banks High School Melanie Check, who offered a school perspective on the value of ABCN programs and the positive impact that she has seen first hand with their Accelerate scholars.
In Queensland, things got interactive, with guests having the opportunity to contribute to a mindmap of what ABCN means to them, eliciting some fantastic and heartfelt responses. Throughout the evening, we heard Michelle Bold from MinterEllison (who kindly hosted the event) spoke about the experiences and journey of their super mentor, Hazal Gacka. Loganlea Secondary College Principal, Brenton Farleigh, shared how ABCN programs and oppportunities for students to visit and network with mentors from our member companies levels the playing field for students from low-socioeconomic areas such as his.
First-year scholars Winta and Jacob served as the emcees for the evening, offering the incoming scholars some poignant reflections on their year and what can be expected heading into the program.
To close out the end of year celebrations, we headed west to Perth, where in the offices of KPMG, first-year scholar Omid spoke about how the program has helped him succeed and the value of his connection with mentor Troy Wainwright from Microsoft, who spoke on the two-way value of mentoring and the impact Omid has had on his own life. Barbara Newtown, Principal of Girrawheen Secondary High School, provided key statistics on student knowledge before and after ABCN programs, affirming the importance of the valuable connection mentorship provides.
Thanks to everyone involved in making 2023 a successful year for ABCN. Here’s to 2024!
Please enter your details below.