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Jumping hurdles to success

A proud Gamilaraay man from Walgett in northern NSW, Jacob overcame a number of personal hurdles before receiving a Country Education Foundation (CEF) grant in 2017, to begin his studies in medicine.

The teachers at Walgett Community College believed in him and encouraged him to undertake an 18-month bridging course, as a pathway to university.

Jacob, who has a powerful connection to the land and his home community, moved his young family to Canberra, where his fiancé was provided an excellent work opportunity. This signalled a change in direction for Jacob who is now studying online for a double degree in environmental science and law. He’s also working with the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator towards a clean and sustainable future. This year he received a 2018 Innovation Award for his contribution to an Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed IT project.

“The city feels like a foreign landscape that I will never completely adapt to,” he says. But the work and study he is doing now to protect Gunimaa (Mother Earth) is very much aligned with his cultural and personal values as an Aboriginal man.

Jacob’s goal is to move home to Walgett to share his experience and knowledge, feeling “an unshakeable responsibility to lift my community up in any way I can”.

This passion and dedication to community is recognised in the naming of Jacob as the inaugural Origin Foundation CEF Rising Star Alumni Award. It is fitting recognition of the bright future he has ahead.

Jacob says, “when people from rural areas leave to pursue higher education there is often a longing for home and a disconnect that people feel over time”. He knows from experience that when CEF provides assistance and touches base, it’s a reminder that you have the support of your community. That’s often enough to give you an extra push along to follow your career path.

Jacob urges other young students from the country to “live your best life. Take every opportunity you can and never say no to an adventure.”

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