Accelerate is a whole support system that I didn’t know I could have,’ says Gina, an ABCN Foundation scholar who has overcome enormous challenges to emerge strong and ambitious about getting into medical school. The Year 12 student tells us how winning the scholarship, made possible only through generous donations, has changed her life.
Gina has taken responsibility for herself from a very early age and works tirelessly to financially support herself and her family. Despite this, she is a brave and determined individual, holding fast to her dreams and focused on pursuing her education. With the help of the ABCN Foundation and her mentor, Tracey Dickson, she’s well on her way.
Why did you apply for the scholarship?
A teacher at school told me about it. I applied because it not only provided financial aid, but also the support of a mentor.
What challenges have you faced and how has the scholarship helped with those?
There are a lot of expectations for me to achieve. I’ve always felt the pressure, but never had the support to help me, financially or personally. I have always had big ambitions and big dreams, but I’ve always worried about how I was going to get there.
Having a mentor means someone is there to check in with regularly. She asks how I’m going, how my grades are, and encourages me to keep sight of my goals. She also checks on my mental health, which is really good, as I’ve never really had that in my life.
Having a mentor keeps me on track and holds me accountable to me and my dreams.
What is your everyday life like?
I wake up at 5.30am and get to school early to work on chemistry and the medical entry exam. I have two jobs, so after school I either go to Coles for a three to six-hour shift, or to the hospital for an eight-hour nursing shift, usually from 2.30pm to 11pm. On average I work 40-50 hours a week. After work, I have tutoring for maths. Then I go home, do homework and eat if I have energy. I usually get to sleep at 1am or 2am. Then … repeat!
Can you think of a specific problem you had that has been resolved by having ABCN’s support?
Yes! So many things now feel possible.
I can now pay for my medical exam. And I was able to get a laptop, which makes a huge difference as I can now work more flexibly from home or the hospital and sometimes at odd hours. I can even go to my Year 12 formal now! I would never have been able to do that before.
The mentoring support has helped remove barriers that were overwhelming to think about. I feel so lucky – everything happens for a reason and this scholarship has changed my life.
What is the most surprising thing you have learnt from your mentor?
When my mentor was made redundant from her job, she fought to keep me as her mentee. I was really surprised that someone who barely knew me fought to keep me. She also taught me that even if things don’t work out, you can turn them around into a positive.
What are you most proud of achieving in the last 18 months?
I am one of the youngest nurses at Logan Hospital. I really worked hard and completed the year’s training in eight months because I did a lot of extra work and took on extra shifts when they were offered. Now I have been nominated for the Queensland Trainee of the Year award! I’m so proud of that.
What do you hope to get out of the Accelerate program by the end of the scholarship?
I’ve got so much out of it already, but I want to keep in contact with Tracey and everyone at ABCN so that I can come back and help out in any way I can, as I have got more than I could ever ask for.
If you were going to convince someone to invest in this program and give other students a chance, what would you say?
Accelerate is a whole support system that I didn’t know I could have – everything, including the workshops with other scholars and mentors, has been so beneficial.
This scholarship closes the gap between vulnerable students and those who have more opportunities. It gives students like me the chances that we don’t usually get and really helps level the playing field. Also, you all basically get a free best friend – a mentor!
The ABCN Foundation aims to level the playing field and empower high-potential Australian young people from low socio-economic (SES) backgrounds to achieve their potential.
Can you support a young person like Gina today and help change their future?