Pregnant at the age of 14 and a self-confessed rebel, WA student Ashleigh Lindsay admits many of her teachers and even some of her family thought she would never amount to anything. But Ashleigh had a dream of becoming a lawyer. And far from deterring her, the birth of her son Shaun made her even more determined than ever to achieve this dream. ‘I wanted to give him the best opportunities in life’, she says. ‘I didn’t want him going down the wrong path.’
So began three intense years to complete her schooling and achieve the marks required for university. Supported by her mother, the deputy principal at her new school and tutors, Ashleigh returned to school to repeat year 10 with a renewed goal of studying to become a lawyer. Participating in ABCN’s GOALS program helped developed confidence in her abilities, which then led to her successful application for financial assistance through two scholarships – one of these being KPMG and ABCN’s Doug Jukes Memorial Award (which three years later inspired the launch of ABCN’s Scholarship Foundation in 2013).
‘There were definitely some tough times and without the support I had, I’m not sure I could have got there,’ says Ashleigh. ‘But my advice to other kids is to follow your dreams no matter what gets in your way and despite whether people believe in you or not – you’re only limited by your own commitment.’
Her hard work and dedication paid off and in 2013 Ashleigh successfully enrolled in a law degree at WA’s prestigious Murdoch University. Now in her third year, she’s achieved a distinction grade average throughout and has a string of awards to her name. A recent internship with a top tier law firm was the icing on the cake – an opportunity that Ashleigh describes as a real privilege – and it was this experience that consolidated her passion for commercial law.
Five years on, Ashleigh is a living example of how critical support can make all the difference. She is confident that she’s being the best role model she can for her son Shaun who is now six and at school – and she’s grateful also for her Mum who pushed her and insisted that she continue her education. With so many challenges and obstacles behind her and so much promise ahead of her, Ashleigh’s enthusiasm is infectious. ‘My Mum told me recently ‘’you’re everything I wanted you to be as an adult.”… That’s got to be one of my proudest moments ever.’
Ashleigh is like many extraordinary young students participating in ABCN programs who, with the right support, can find the determination and courage to reach their potential. By the end of 2015, 41 students will be benefitting from critical mentoring and financial support through the ABCN Scholarship Foundation. If you’d like to find out how you can make a difference in these students’ lives, please visit www.abcn.com.au/scholarship-foundation.
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