Behind every successful Western Chances scholarship recipient is someone who believes in them. In many cases, these are the recipients’ teachers who are uniquely placed to see the potential in these young people and recognise the greatness they can achieve.
Marion Mortimer has been a secondary school teacher at St Albans Secondary College for 30 years. She nominated her first Western Chances scholarship recipient in 2005 and has gone on to nominate a further 16 students for the program.
For Marion, the inspiration to nominate her students comes from her own educational opportunities.
“In 1997 I was fortunate to obtain a Teacher Release to Industry Program (TRIP) placement at the Cancer Council of Victoria, and in 2000, an Earthwatch Institute Teacher Fellowship. These fantastic learning experiences encouraged me to provide young people with positive, life changing opportunities.”
The first student nominated by Marion in 2005 was Nyanbol (Rose) Deng Kuol (pictured with Marion, above).
“When I encountered a young, courageous Sudanese woman, Rose, in my Year 10 Science class, and Western Chances had recently been inaugurated, the stars aligned.
Rose was an English as an Additional Language student who had recently arrived in Australia via Kenya. She had experienced significant hardship but she displayed an eagerness and determination to succeed with her studies and receiving a Western Chances scholarship provided the catalyst for her to pursue a career in scientific research.”
Western Chances went on to support Rose with a further five scholarships which assisted her while she completed her Masters Degree in Biomedical Engineering (2014) in Wuhan, China. She is currently undertaking a PhD at Victoria University.
For Marion, the most important attribute of the students she nominates for scholarships is their potential.
“You may know the SCOPE motto ‘See the person, not the disability’,” she says, “Well, my Western Chances motto has always been, ‘See the person, see their potential’. My nominees may not currently be exceptional students. However, they share positive attributes, such as being highly motivated, determined and diligent towards their studies.”
Marion is adamant that nominating students for a Western Chances scholarship it is one of the most important things a teacher can do to support their students. Her advice for other teachers: “Just do it!”
“Find the time! … The Western Chances online application is not taxing. Collaborate with your nominated student and review the application together. It’s a win-win experience. You’ll both benefit!”
For Marion, her big dream for her students’ futures is connected with leadership and contributing to a better community.
“My hope is that they will reach their goals to experience success with their studies and gain purposeful employment, make valuable contributions to their respective communities, lead with integrity, and share their opportunities with their families.”
Western Chances is grateful for the time and effort that our nominators make to ensure that young people in Melbourne’s west have the opportunity to reach their full potential. If you want to support teachers like Marion and students like Rose, consider becoming a Big Dreams donor today. For as little as $10 a month you can make a big difference.
Image courtesy Marion Mortimer
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