As rural and regional students start to take up places in courses at University and TAFE this month, they face a number of challenges. The Education Support Fund was set up by the Community Foundation in 2013 to support local students tackling these. On Friday 11th February, there was an awards evening at the Walter J Tuck Rec Reserve Rooms.
“On Friday last, we were delighted to announce financial support of almost $30,000 to nine local students who are starting tertiary education,” said Rob Kiddell, Chair of the Community Foundation. “The Education Support awards are aimed at supporting the upfront costs students face in taking up these studies – they can cover everything from laptops to books or materials, from bonds to travel expenses. This assistance relieves some of the financial pressure on the students at this initial stage, as the students manage some of the other challenges, like moving away from home or learning as an adult in a totally new environment.
From the very beginning, the Community Bank, Mirboo North & District (the Community Bank) has been a strong supporter of the Education Support Program with annual donations. In 2018, the Community Bank set up a perpetual fund within the Community Foundation, whose earnings now go into the Program each year.
“In addition, this year the Community Bank has also generously sponsored a new two-year Education Support award for two students heading to University,” said Ruth Rogan, Executive Officer. “These students will receive financial support of $3,000 in their first and second years of their University Course – a total of $6,000.”
At the awards evening, Warren Warner and Marg Thomas, Directors on the Board of the Community Bank, congratulated Sasha Chalmers and Meaghan Basarke on receiving these two awards.
“The Education Support Program does a wonderful job of supporting local students taking the step into University or TAFE. The Community Bank is delighted to be able to support the program and local students,” explained Warren Warner, Chair of the Community Bank
Rob Kiddell and Walter Aich also congratulated and gave Education Support awards to Kelsi Elger, Matthew Cooke, Ebony Wright, Gemma Tompkins, Audrey Crawford, Lily Maxwell and Jasmine Woods who are taking up courses in nursing, criminology, visual arts amongst other things. It was noted that these awards are not only about financial support, but that they reflect the support of the community in the education of local young people.
In addition to financial support, the Education Support Program seeks to provide support for the challenge rural students face in moving away from their support networks.
“In collaboration with Youthrive Victoria, we give a local student access to a peer-to-peer mentor and a rural youth leadership program. We are delighted that Meaghan Basarke will take up this opportunity in 2022,” added Ruth Rogan.
The students and parents gathered for the awards evening also had the opportunity to hear from two different speakers about the journey ahead. Wendy Major, Executive Officer of the South Gippsland and Bass Coast Local Learning and Employment Network, spoke about life’s ‘speedbumps’ and how their journey may not be a straight line but that this was totally normal.
Dee Franssen, who has just finished her first year of a Bachelor of Education as a mature student, had some encouraging words, as well as some practical tips on how to manage the University environment. It was a timely discussion for both students and parents, filled with excitement and nerves as they embark on a new adventure.