A record 45 deserving young students from across Australia will receive scholarships through the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) 2022 Accelerate Scholarship Program this year. 

No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.’ 

This was the stunning opening to 16-year-old Sajida’s application for a 2022 ABCN Scholarship. The rest of her story was just as compelling. 

Sajida, from Chester Hill High School in Sydney, arrived in Australia from Afghanistan, nine years after her brother fled Pakistan by boat and started the application process for the family. In her application, Sajida outlined the story of her family of seven, including the dangerous journey her brother took to Australia.

Sajida, 2022 Accelerate scholar

Despite arriving in Australia unable to speak or understand English in 2019, Sajida is a high performing student who is excelling in her studies and aiming for a high ATAR. She hopes to study dentistry and give back to her community while being the first in her family to complete high school and attend university. 

ABCN was delighted to award Sajida one of the 45 Accelerate Scholarships on offer this year to support her to achieve these dreams. 

Accelerate is a three-year program for students in low socio-economic schools who are exceptional yet face significant social, cultural and economic barriers beyond their control that impact their ability to reach their potential. Successful applicants receive a unique combination of one-on-one corporate mentoring support, leadership coaching and financial assistance over Years 11, 12 and their first year of tertiary studies or training. 

‘The most successful people see adversity not as a stumbling block, but as stepping stones to greatness,’ Sajida says. ‘The ABCN program will enhance my skills, (offer) further education and increase my career opportunities to achieve my dream.’  

Of the 2022 applicants, 53% were from non-English speaking backgrounds, like Sajida. One in four live in rural or remote areas and 41% had suffered traumatic experiences.  

We are proud to award these scholarships to 45 extraordinary young individuals across Australia who are facing substantial challenges and have demonstrated a powerful capacity for leadership to support tomorrow’s Australia,’ says ABCN Foundation Chair Mike Hawker.

‘We were immensely moved by their stories and their resilience and determination to succeed. We trust that they will make good use of this opportunity to achieve great things.’ 

Successful recipients will be honoured at state events in November and December and the 2022 ABCN scholars will begin their scholarships when they start Year 11 in 2023 and conclude in December 2025. 

Forty-one Highly Commended Awards were also distributed, demonstrating the high quality of applications received. 

ABCN scholarships are wholly reliant on funding from the corporate sector, philanthropic foundations and generous individuals. 

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