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What my Scholarship has meant to me

2010 Graduate Latiesha Dunbar gave the following Acknowledgement of Country at the Qantas Women of the Future Awards hosted by the Australian Women’s Weekly in Sydney on 31 August 2016.

Latiesha attended St Peters Lutheran College in Brisbane on an AIEF Scholarship. Latiesha has since completed a Bachelor of Media and Communications at the Queensland University of Technology.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and their Elders past and present.

We’re here today to celebrate the achievements of 15 young women with ideas or ventures that will transform the lives of others…. and as we do, may we also pay respect to the knowledge embedded forever within the Aboriginal custodianship of Country.

My name is Latiesha Dunbar I am both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. On my mother’s side my mob is Tiwi and Emajida my father’s side is Torres Strait.

I’m honoured to speak to you as a graduate of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarship Program.

As eight Women of the Future Scholarships will be awarded today, I want to take this opportunity to speak to you about what my AIEF Scholarship has meant to me.

Growing up in Darwin, I never thought I would finish Year 12, let alone go on to university.

When I was 14 my family came down to Brisbane for a holiday. Sitting in traffic on our way to the Gold Coast, I noticed a group of school students, wearing black polished shoes, wide brimmed hats and blazers. They looked well educated, like they had a bright future ahead of them.

When I got back to Darwin I started searching on Google for boarding schools in Brisbane and I applied for a scholarship at St Peters Lutheran College.

At the time, I was failing most of my subjects but St Peters was focused on my goals, not my grades.

With the support of the school and AIEF, I became the first person in my family to finish Year 12. Last year I went one step further when I graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Media and Communications, majoring in drama.

My scholarship has changed my life and it has also changed the lives of those around me. I was the first to go away for school and my brother and cousins have been inspired to follow. When I catch up with other alumni at AIEF events, I hear similar stories.

My goal is to become an actor and the first Indigenous Australian to win an Academy Award. Right now I’m going to lots of auditions and preparing to try out for NIDA and WAAPA at the end of this year.

The fact that I’m standing here today in front of you all is proof that a scholarship can change a life. Ten years ago I would have only dreamt of this. Thank you all for having me here today – I hope the awards will help the finalists make their vision a reality.

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The AIEF Scholarship Program and the AIEF Pathways Program are supported by the Australian Government in collaboration with individual, philanthropic and corporate supporters from the private sector.