Print this page

A Success Story from the Mary MacKillop Foundation

February 06, 2017

The Mary Mackillop Foundation reached a significant milestone in 2016.

We have now supported 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve a tertiary qualification which will change not only the life of the student but the lives of their family and friends. I can’t help thinking how pleased and proud Mary MacKillop would be as we continue her legacy improving the lives of the vulnerable and marginalised through education.

The impact of these scholarships is far reaching and creates intergenerational change as most of our students are the first in their families to attend university. We feel privileged every day to hear our student’s inspiring stories of triumph and perseverance.

We are grateful to the many supporters who stand with us in supporting and growing Mary’s legacy making our country greater by empowering those who through no fault of their own find themselves needing a hand up.

One young woman (let’s call her Selena) who has just completed a social work degree with distinction and been invited into the Masters Program told me that education had changed her in very many ways. For a start it’s changed her perception of herself and what she can achieve –even of what she dares to dream.

When Selena was at school no one expected her to achieve anything and certainly not to achieve academically. She left school at 15 and became a hairdresser. Three children and now having sole responsibility for her kids, she realised the only way up and out of her situation was to further her education. Like all mothers she wanted something better, something more for her own children. Motivated by this, she found the courage and the determination to return to study, and look at her now!

She has chosen to leave her country town and live with her children in the city in order to pursue her dream. This enables her to also continue her education, thereby improving her family’s futures. With the example of their mother, Selena’s children regard a university education, if they have that capacity and interest, as something that is as much a possibility for them as it is for any other Australian.

Another young man when asked how he managed to continue through all the difficult circumstances he has surmounted told me ‘you have to understand I have decided that the cycle of disadvantage in my family ends with me. I am creating a new future. I know I can.”  He’s 24 and has survived very many misfortunes that would stop anyone else.

Maree Whybourne (CEO)