We were thrilled to receive an update recently from former Fairfield High student, Serena Zhang who took part in GOALS in 2009. Here Serena met her mentor Jill Shapiro from Investec, where the two developed a wonderful connection.
A year later, following a request from Serena, ABCN facilitated Year 11 work experience for her at Investec – and several years later she contacted Jill again with news of her Year 12 achievement and acceptance into university. Since then, the two have caught up regularly and more recently, celebrated Serena’s graduation from university and securing her first job. Jill is immensely proud.
‘Serena was a stand-out from the beginning’, says Jill. ‘Ambitious, curious, engaged – she wanted to learn and make the most of any opportunity. Far from perceiving her disadvantaged background as something that would hold her back, she seemed to draw strength from it to use it as motivation.
‘I once asked Serena what drives her – and she told me it was the fact that she had nothing to fall back on. Being qualified, able to work and self-sufficient is everything to her because there is no other option.’
Serena, now 21, has recently graduated with a degree in International Business from UTS and is studying her Masters while working part time as an operations coordinator for a start-up venture. Happy and confident that she has a bright future, she is grateful for her mentor of so many years ago during GOALS.
‘Where I am right now I very much attribute to Jill and her mentorship’, she says. ‘I got in touch with her when I left school because I wanted her to know that her efforts had made an impact.’
Jill has also gone on to mentor in both GOALS and Focus programs a number of times. She says Serena will always be her ‘one in a million’ and hopes they will continue to keep in touch.
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